Tooth loss appears to be associated with an increased risk of three types of cancer, according to a new study.
Japanese researchers found that people who had experienced tooth loss were 136 per cent more likely to need oesophageal cancer treatment
They were also 68 per cent more likely to develop head and neck cancer and 54 per cent more likely to develop lung cancer.
Lead author Dr Akio Hiraki, a researcher at the Aichi Cancer Centre in Nagoya, said that tooth loss may serve as a "surrogate" for chronic infection and inflammation, which in turn may contribute to the development of cancer.
Publishing their findings in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, the authors concluded: "The oral cavity is a gateway between the external environment and the gastrointestinal tract and acts in both food ingestion and digestion.
"Oral hygiene potentially affects gastrointestinal flora and nutritional status and may thus have implications for the development of chronic disease."