Tooth loss and risk of head and neck cancer: a meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 19;8(8):e71122. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071122. eCollection 2013.


Background: Observational studies suggest an association between tooth loss and risk of head and neck cancer. However, whether tooth loss is an independent risk factor for head and neck cancer still remains controversial. The aim of this study is to assess the association between tooth loss and head and neck cancer risk.

Methods: Eligible studies were searched in PubMed and Embase databases from their inception to March 2013. A random-effects model or fixed-effects model was used to calculate the overall combined risk estimates.

Results: Eight case-control studies and one cross-sectional study involving 5,204 patients and 5,518 controls were included in the meta-analysis. The overall combined odds ratio for tooth loss and head and neck cancer was 2.00 (95% confidence interval, 1.28-3.14). Similar results yielded both in the moderate and severe tooth loss group. Sensitivity analysis based on various exclusion criteria maintained this significance with respect to head and neck cancer individually. Little evidence of publication bias was observed.

Conclusion: This meta-analysis suggests that tooth loss is associated with increased risk of head and neck cancer. This increase is probably independent of conventional head and neck cancer risk factors.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / complications*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Tooth Loss / complications*
  • Treatment Outcome

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.