(HealthDay News) — Dental caries, crowns, and endodontic treatments are inversely associated with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), according to a study published online Sept. 12 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Mine Tezal, D.D.S., Ph.D., from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and colleagues examined the correlation between dental caries and HNSCC in a case control study involving patients with newly diagnosed primary HNSCC between 1999 and 2007 (399 cases) and patients without a cancer diagnosis (221 controls).

The researchers found that, compared with controls, cases had significantly more missing teeth, but had a significantly lower number of teeth with caries, crowns, endodontic treatments, and fillings. No significant difference was noted between the groups in an index variable: decayed, missing, and filled teeth.

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Those in the upper tertiles of caries, crowns, and endodontic treatments were less likely to have HNSCC than those in the lower tertiles (odds ratios, 0.32, 0.46, 0.55, respectively), after adjustment for age at diagnosis, sex, marital status, smoking status, and alcohol use. After adjustment there was no association for missing teeth with HNSCC.

“There is an inverse association between HNSCC and dental caries,” the authors write. “This study provides insights for future studies to assess potential beneficial effects of lactic acid bacteria and the associated immune response on HNSCC.”