New research has looked into the connection between oral health and Head and Neck Cancer. Interestingly, the research has shown that oral health has a big impact on survival rates for patients with this form of cancer. The research acts as a reminder of the importance of oral health – and its subsequent impact on overall physical health.

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In concerning findings, new research has identified a strong association between poor oral health and low survival rates among those diagnosed with Head and Neck cancer [1].

These findings underline the importance of oral health and its resulting impact on physical health. It is also important research in the field of head and neck cancer.


This research focused on those with head and neck cancer. Head and neck cancer’s full name is Head and Neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and is a condition that affects many people.

HNSCC is the sixth most common cancer around the world [2]. Moreover, research shows that there are approximately 10,000 HNSCC-related deaths in the United States every year [2].

Risk factors for the condition include tobacco and alcohol use. Additionally, having the human papillomavirus virus (HPV) is another risk factor.

Advances in treatments in recent years has led to the condition having improved survival rates. However, it is still a life-threatening condition. Therefore, any research into this condition is welcomed.

The Research

The research was completed by a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC). Moreover, their findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute [1].

The study involved 2,449 participants. All participants were patients that had been diagnosed with HNSCC. They were asked to self-report on aspects of their oral health and associated oral hygiene [1].

These aspects included gum bleeding, how often they brushed their teeth, mouthwash use, the number of natural teeth they had, and the frequency of their visits to a dental clinic in the 10 years prior to their diagnosis [1].

After receiving responses to these questions, the researchers were able to use the data to observe trends. This helped them to make their overall conclusions.

Interestingly, frequent dental visits were associated with improved survival rates. The researchers found that those with a minimum of five visits in a 10 year period had a 60% survival rate, compared to a 32% survival rate of those without dental clinic visits in that same period [1].

This finding shows the importance of dental clinic visits. The logic behind this is that dentists can often spot the signs of HNSCC during check-ups, aiding early detection, which improves long-term survival rates.

Moreover, the number of natural teeth that a person had also had an impact. Those with no natural teeth had a 15% lower survival rate compared to those with more than 20 natural teeth [1].

In terms of the use of mouthwash, toothbrushing and bleeding gums – the differences were negligible. But this doesn’t mean that these are unimportant areas. Instead, these are important elements that contribute to overall oral hygiene.

These were all interesting results. The results underline the importance of oral health – and looking after our teeth from a young age. It evidently helps with long-term physical health.

Conclusions of the research

There were clear conclusions to the study. Overall, the more natural teeth a person has – the higher their survival chances are when battling HNSCC.

Moreover, those that had visited dental clinics prior to their diagnosis were likely to have their cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage – which aided their survival.

Lead author Jason Tasoulas commented on the findings [3]. He confirmed that there were “robust associations” between strong oral health and survival for those with HNSCC [3].

Another author mentioned that the link between oral health and HNSCC is an “often overlooked problem” [3]. Moreover, the research team stated that they hoped for their findings to help advise on future guidelines on treating HNSCC.

Early diagnosis of any form of cancer is very important. As this research shows, this process can begin through a simple check-up at a dental clinic. Having strong oral hygiene maximises survival rates – making it crucial!

Thinking points…

1) One of the key findings of this research is how those who have strong oral health have better survival rates with this form of cancer. One of the ways that the researchers determined strong oral health focused on when study participants had most recently attended the dentist for a check-up. Those who had been to the dentist recently had better survival chances – underlining how important check-ups are. Remember to attend a dental clinic at least once every six months for a check-up. We recommend booking an appointment now!

2) When looking after our teeth, it can be easy to forget about the importance of what you are doing. As this research shows, by brushing your teeth, you are helping your overall health. You may even be staving off the threat of cancer. Let this be a reminder that every time you brush your teeth and have excellent oral hygiene – you are aiding your overall health!

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a wide range of dental treatment options and advice aimed at improving their oral health.

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals. To try and prevent problems, it is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

In addition, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.

We would love you to visit our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website


[1] Tasoulas, J., Farquhar, D. R., Sheth, S., Hackman, T., Yarbrough, W. G., Agala, C. B., Koric, A., Giraldi, L., Fabianova, E., Lissowska, J., Swiatkowska, B., Vilensky, M., Wunsch-Filho, V., de Carvahlo, M. B., López, R. V. M., Holcatova, I., Serraino, D., Polesel, J., Canova, C., Richiardi, L., Zevallos, J. P., Ness, A., Pring, M., Thomas, S. J., Dudding, T., Lee, Y-C. A., Hashibe, M., Boffetta, P., Olshan, A. F., Divaris, K., & L Amelio, A. (2023). Poor oral health influences head and neck cancer patient survival: an International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology Consortium pooled analysis. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. djad156. DOI:

[2] Guo, K., Xiao, W., Chen, X., Zhao, Z., Lin, Y., & Chen, G. (2021). Epidemiological Trends of Head and Neck Cancer: A Population-Based Study. Biomed Research International. 2021.DOI:

[3] University of North Carolina. (2023). Study suggests poor oral health could lessen survival from head and neck cancer. Available: Last accessed: 22nd September 2023.