Background: Regular/frequent dental visits, at least annually, can aid in reducing the public health burden of head and neck cancers (HNCs) by facilitating earlier detection of the disease. The aim of this study was to conduct a quantitative assessment of any independent association between past dental visits/check-ups and incidence of cancers of HN/upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) and oral cavity worldwide. Methods: PubMed, CINAHL, and Cochrane databases were searched for all observational studies published until August 2017 in any language that assessed an association of past dental visits/dental check-ups among the incident cases of HNC/UADT cancers. Screening and quality assessment of the articles was performed by two independent reviewers. Three different meta-analyses were conducted: two based on the incident cancer reported in the studies (HNCs/cancers of UADT and oral cavity); another included all studies irrespective of the type of cancer reported with the frequency of past dental visits as subgroups. Results: Searches retrieved 3164 titles: after removing duplicates, 1377 remained. Of these, 62 were reviewed in full, but only 38 were eligible for inclusion. Under the random effects model, odds of past never/irregular/not frequent dental visits were greater in HNC cases and oral cancer cases as compared to the hospital-based/population-based controls [HNCs-unadjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.24; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.89 to 2.65) and (oral cancers - OR 1.93; 95% CI 1.47 to 2.52]. Similar results were observed for all cancers with frequency of past dental visits as subgroup analysis (OR 2.01; 95% CI 1.76 to 2.30). Meta-regression findings indicate that none of the subgroup influenced the effect estimates for incidence of cancers. There was no publication bias in our study. Conclusion: This systematic review and meta-analysis indicates that individuals with never/irregular/not frequent dental visits are more likely to be incident cases of HNCs/UADT cancers.
- Dental check-ups
- Dental visits
- Head and neck cancers
- Oral cancers
- Systematic review and meta-analysis
- Upper aerodigestive tract cancers