Brushing and flossing your teeth is associated with far more than just impressing your dentist; in fact, giving your gums and teeth some TLC may lower your risk of several chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Recent research suggests that it may also reduce your risk of liver cancer.

According to a study of 469,000 people in the United Kingdom, people with poor oral health—including painful or bleeding gums, loose teeth, or mouth ulcers — might be 75% more likely to develop liver cancer. The findings are likely to apply to people in the United States, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that liver cancer rates are on the rise.

The study, which was published in the United European Gastroenterology Journal, sought to determine whether there was a link between oral health and digestive cancers such as colon and rectum cancers. While no link was discovered there, a significant link was discovered between liver cancer and oral health conditions.

But why is poor oral health linked to an increased risk of liver cancer? According to the study's authors, it's currently unclear—but it could be related to the role of oral and gut bacteria in disease development.

The liver aids in the removal of bacteria from the human body. When the liver is afflicted by diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or cancer, its function declines, and bacteria survive for longer, potentially causing more harm. Another possibility is that people with poor oral health alter their diet to accommodate loose teeth and other issues, such as eating only softer and potentially less nutritious foods, which may contribute to cancer development.

Researchers say more research is needed to better understand the link. However, take steps to reduce your other risk factors for liver cancer by limiting your alcohol consumption—and taking care of your teeth!

4 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Healthy
You're probably aware that you should brush your teeth twice a day. According to the Oral Health Foundation, here's what else you can do to take care of your mouth and lower your risk of liver cancer, as well as other diseases:

1. Brush your teeth twice a day
Brushing your teeth right before bed and at least once more during the day is recommended by experts. Use fluoride toothpaste to help protect your teeth from decay, and spit instead of rinsing after brushing to allow the fluoride to stay on your teeth and work its magic for longer. Choose a toothbrush with a small to medium brush head and soft to medium bristles. You can also use an electric toothbrush, which is often more effective at cleaning your teeth with less movement on your part.

2. Floss every day
Floss at least once a day between the teeth using a gentle rocking motion. Curve the floss into a C shape around each tooth at the gum line and gently scrape up the side of the tooth. Remember to include the back of the last tooth!

3. Go to the dentist
When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned and checked? Going to the dentist is important because once plaque on your teeth hardens into tartar, it can no longer be removed by brushing alone—only a dental hygienist can assist you in removing it during annual teeth cleaning. If tartar is allowed to accumulate, it can cause inflammation, pain, and gum disease.

4. Eat a healthy diet
Try to limit your intake of sugary foods and beverages throughout the day. These are the foods that cause plaque bacteria to produce harmful acids that can erode your tooth enamel. This is when cavities form. The longer these sugar acids remain on your teeth, the longer they cause harm. If you only need a sweet once in a while, brush your teeth (or drink a glass of water) immediately afterward to help cancel out some of the acids.

Author's Bio: 

I am Amelia Grant, a journalist, and blogger. I think that information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. That is why I feel a strong intention to share useful and important things about health self-care, wellness, and other advice that may be helpful for people. Being an enthusiast of a healthy lifestyle that keeps improving my life, I wish the same for everyone.

Our attention to ourselves, to our daily routine and habits, is very important. Things that may seem insignificant, are pieces of a big puzzle called life. I want to encourage people to be more attentive to their well-being, improve every little item of it and become healthier, happier, and stronger. All of us deserve that. And I really hope that my work helps to make the world better.