The role of oral hygiene in head and neck cancer: Results from International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (INHANCE) consortium

Dana Hashim, S. Sartori, P. Brennan, M. P. Curado, V. Wünsch-Filho, K. Divaris, A. F. Olshan, J. P. Zevallos, D. M. Winn, S. Franceschi, X. Castellsagué, J. Lissowska, P. Rudnai, K. Matsuo, H. Morgenstern, C. Chen, T. L. Vaughan, J. N. Hofmann, G. D'Souza, R. I. HaddadH. Wu, Y. C. Lee, M. Hashibe, C. La Vecchia, P. Boffetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Poor oral hygiene has been proposed to contribute to head and neck cancer (HNC) risk, although causality and independency of some indicators are uncertain. This study investigates the relationship of five oral hygiene indicators with incident HNCs. Methods: In a pooled analysis of 8925 HNC cases and 12 527 controls from 13 studies participating in the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology Consortium, comparable data on good oral hygiene indicators were harmonized. These included: No denture wear, no gum disease (or bleeding), <5 missing teeth, tooth brushing at least daily, and visiting a dentist ≥once a year. Logistic regression was used to estimate the effects of each oral hygiene indicator and cumulative score on HNC risk, adjusting for tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption. Results: Inverse associations with any HNC, in the hypothesized direction, were observed for <5 missing teeth [odds ratio (OR) = 0.78; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.74, 0.82], annual dentist visit (OR = 0.82; 95% CI 0.78, 0.87), daily tooth brushing (OR = 0.83, 95% CI 0.79, 0.88), and no gum disease (OR = 0.94; 95% CI 0.89, 0.99), and no association was observed for wearing dentures. These associations were relatively consistent across specific cancer sites, especially for tooth brushing and dentist visits. The population attributable fraction for ≤ 2 out of 5 good oral hygiene indicators was 8.9% (95% CI 3.3%, 14%) for oral cavity cancer. Conclusion: Good oral hygiene, as characterized by few missing teeth, annual dentist visits, and daily tooth brushing, may modestly reduce the risk of HNC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1619-1625
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Head and neck neoplasms
  • Oral hygiene
  • Oral neoplasms
  • Pharyngeal neoplasms
  • Pooled analyses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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