Many dentists’ offices have started to reopen. However, wary patients are staying away.
They rightly fear that sitting with their mouths wide open for long stretches is not a risk worth taking as the coronavirus continues to rampage through the country. Many of us have decided to skip checkups and routine cleanings for now.
The American Dental Association reports that patient volume is less than 60% of what it was before the pandemic. That means cavities and gum disease could go untreated.
A new study shows that the threat may be far more dangerous than you think.
Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that gum disease greatly raises your risk for cancer. They looked at health records from 147,000 people covering 28 years.
Analyzing that data against dental records showed that people with gum disease have a 59% increased risk of throat cancer.
They have a 50% higher risk of stomach cancer. The chances increase to 68% if a person is missing one or more teeth because of gum disease.
Dr. Peter Campbell was a study co-author. He said, “The mouth, esophagus and stomach are all connected… It’s not surprising to see that a marker for illness of one organ is connected to another illness, such as cancer.” 
Professor Mingyang Song was the senior researcher of the study. He pointed out that people with periodontal disease “tend to have higher systemic inflammation, which is one of the underlying mechanisms of cancer development.”
Mouth diseases may also promote bacteria that are linked to cancer.
Dr. Campbell said that “some of the same bacteria and related pathogens that lead to tooth loss and gum disease are also associated with tumors in the stomach and esophagus.”
Choose the Right Floss
Staying away from the dentist makes home dental hygiene more important than ever. If you are skipping teeth cleanings, be sure to brush and floss every day.
A recent study shows how important it is to choose the healthiest kind of floss.
The research comes from the Silent Spring Institute in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley’s Public Health Institute.
Scientists analyzed blood samples from 178 middle-aged subjects. They measured the amount of 11 different PFAS in the samples.
Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of toxic chemicals. They are linked to cancer, liver damage, infertility, asthma, thyroid disease, and other serious health problems. 
The team found that subjects who flossed with Oral-B Glide had elevated levels of PFAS.
Further testing revealed that other flosses also contain the chemicals.
They include: CVS Health EaseBetween SuperSlip, Crest Glide Deep Clean Cool Mint, Safeway Signature Care Mint, and Colgate Total Mint.
The scientists say these brands contain Teflon-like compounds. Teflon is notorious for its PFAS content.
Dr. Katie Boronow was the study’s lead author. She said that the study shows that “consumer products are an important source” of PFAS exposure. “Restricting these chemicals from products should be a priority to reduce levels in people’s bodies.
“The good news is, based on our findings, consumers can choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS,” said Dr. Boronow.
Stick to old-fashioned wax-coated or uncoated flosses. There are lots of choices. RADIUS Natural Silk Floss, Cocofloss, and Dental Lace are three popular brands.
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