Daily Brushing Prevents More Than Just Cavities

Dental Health Linked to Colon Polyps

Your dentist already recommends twice-daily brushing to fight plaque and prevent cavities, but now, you get the same advice from your gastroenterologist . New findings suggest that regular brushing could help prevent colon polyps.

How Can Brushing My Teeth Prevent Colon Polyps?

Fusobacterium is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in dental plaque, but researchers have discovered that this bacteria is hundreds of times more common in cancerous growths than in normal cells. These bacteria have a sugar-binding protein. This protein enables the bacteria to attach to colon polyps. This can cause polyps to turn cancerous and malignant tumors to grow even larger.

But How Does It Get to the Colon?

Scientists suspect that fusobacterium enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums. They are then able to travel to the bowel. In order to test this theory, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health injected fusobacteria into the tail veins of two mouse models with either precancerous or malignant colorectal tumors. In both types of mice, the bacteria attached to the colorectal tumors rather than the adjacent tissue.

The researchers also found fusobacterium in most of the human colorectal cancer metastases that were tested in the study. Although they did not find it in most of the tumor-free liver samples.

Together, these results led researchers to conclude that fusobacterium reach colorectal tumors through the bloodstream. From here, they then use their Fap2 protein to attach to host cells and promote tumor growth.

So What Does This Mean?

According to Daily Mail , while these findings could eventually lead to improved treatments for colorectal cancer, researchers say further research is necessary. Study co-author Gilad Bachrach of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine explains, “The strengths are that the study involved both human samples and mouse models. The weakness is that the available mouse models for colorectal adenocarcinoma do not completely reflect the slowly developing disease in humans”