ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy to forget to brush and floss before bed, but hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new incentive to make sure you do: Poor oral health can increase your risk of getting oral human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a new study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
For the study, researchers took data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and analyzed the oral health of 3,439 people. Participants with poor oral healthÃ¢â‚¬”which included factors such as presence of gum disease, missing teeth, and poor self-ratings of oral hygieneÃ¢â‚¬”had a 56 percent higher risk of developing an oral HPV infection than those with good oral health.
Why? The study didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t find that poor oral health actually causes oral HPVÃ¢â‚¬”the two are just associated. However, researchers say the correlation makes sense: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Poor oral health can create inflamed gums or ulcers, which can provide openings for the HPV virus to enter the body,Ã¢â‚¬Â says study author Christine Markham, Ph.D., associate professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the good news: Experts say practicing good oral hygieneÃ¢â‚¬”and possibly lowering your risk of getting an oral HPV infection in the processÃ¢â‚¬”is easy. The biggest thing is to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristle brush, which will be gentler on your gums, says Jonathan Levine, D.M.D., an American Academy of Prosthodontics-certified oral care expert. Your other daily dental habits should include flossing around and between each individual tooth and using an alcohol-free mouthwashÃ¢â‚¬”other kinds can dry out your mouth (not good since saliva helps fight bacteria).
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