Dental health plays a crucial role in our overall wellness. Poor oral health may be associated with increased cancer risk and premature death, according to researchers. Plaque buildup is a common sign of poor dental health. A study showed that a person with persistent plaque has a 79 percent higher risk of premature death than a person who practices good oral hygiene.
Dental Plaque and How It Damages the Teeth
Plaque is a sticky mix of bacteria that forms on the surface of the teeth and along the gum line. When plaque is not removed through brushing, the bacteria produce mucopolysaccharides, an adhesive chemical. This later turns into a transparent film on the teeth called biofilm, where bacteria can thrive. The plaque bacteria release acid that damages tooth enamel. Over time, plaque hardens and becomes tartar. Not brushing and flossing the teeth regularly are two top causes of dental plaque and tartar.
How Plaque is Linked to Cancer
One study between the link of dental plaque and cancer risk began in 1985, led by Dr. Birgitta Söder and her colleagues (Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge, Sweden). The researchers discovered dental plaque produces toxins and enzymes that enter the bloodstream through the “gingival crevice.” If a person has a higher risk of developing a certain cancer, those toxins and enzymes may increase the risk of malignancy.
Söder and her colleagues randomly selected 1,390 healthy Swedish individuals aged 30-40 (with no signs of any periodontitis at baseline). The 24-year-long study shockingly ended with 58 deaths, 35 due to malignancies. Subjects who lived had a lower dental plaque index compared to those who died.
How to Prevent Dental Plaque Buildup
The combination of saliva and chewed food in the mouth creates an environment for bacteria to thrive on the teeth and gumline. Eating starchy and sugary foods increases the accumulation of plaque. Below are a few simple tips to help prevent the buildup of dental plaque:
- Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day.
- Floss after meals to remove food particles stuck in-between teeth.
- Swish with mouthwash.
- Avoid eating starchy and sugary foods.
The prevention of plaque buildup can be a simple, routine task. Practice good oral hygiene and visit your caring dentist in Corunna every six months for a regular and thorough checkup. Call Riverview Family Dental at (519) 813-9090 or send us an email at to book an appointment.