Beat back cancer by “brushing up” on your oral health
You know what you’ve got to do.
You brush, you floss, and you swish mouthwash around like a good soldier.
You want to keep your teeth as long as you can… and keep those pearly whites sparkling and your breath minty fresh.
But it may surprise you that no matter how much cleaning you do in there, your mouth is constantly full of BUGS!
You see, just like your gut, it plays host to a whole community of bacteria. And just like your gut, some of them in there are beneficial… and others… not so much.
With gum disease, for example, nasty bacteria cause a chronic infection that leaves your pink tissues red and bleeding.
And according to a new study, the damage that the bad guys do isn’t limited to “dental” issues — because some of the same pathogens that wreak havoc on your gums can also up your risk of esophageal cancer.
In the study out of New York University, researchers collected samples of mouth bacteria from 120,000 cancer-free older adults and then followed them for 10 years.
By the end of the study, it turned out that those whose mouths had the bacteria Tannarella forsythia — commonly linked to gum disease — at the start of the study were 21 percent MORE likely to develop esophageal cancer.
But not all of the mouth bacteria analyzed in the study were bad news. In fact, the study found that two beneficial strains — Streptococcus and Neisseria — actually had PROTECTIVE effects against esophageal cancer.
Participants with these two good guys in their mouths at the start of the study were 24 percent LESS likely to develop esophageal cancer.
Now, the study didn’t figure out HOW bacteria in your mouth can interact with your esophagus, but it’s entirely possible that these bugs can “migrate” south to other parts of your digestive tract.
In fact, previous studies have shown that having bad critters in your kisser can up your risk of colon cancer.
And the danger doesn’t end there — because infected gums have also been linked to everything from heart disease to diabetes to pancreatic cancer.
While regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can help stave off gum disease, even the best dental care may not be enough to promote an ideal balance of bacteria in your mouth.
Laying off cigarettes and booze… eating a healthy diet… and resolving gastric reflux can all improve your mouth’s bacterial makeup for the better.
And studies have shown that taking probiotics can help balance the “microbiome” in your mouth as well as your gut.
Chewing gum sweetened only with xylitol — which is derived from plant fiber — after meals can also reduce your levels of harmful mouth bacteria and keep them from sticking to your teeth.