Sure, you do what you can to brush your teeth twice a day but it’s easy to conk out at night before you actually make it to the bathroom to get things done.

It seems like a pretty harmless habit but new research has found that doing this repeatedly could be way more serious than you’d think.

A study published in the journal Cancer Research now links periodontal (a.k.a. gum) disease, which can be caused by not brushing your teeth on the regular, with oesophageal cancer or cancer of that tube that runs from your throat to your stomach.

Seriously? Could not brushing your teeth be a cause of throat cancer?

READ MORE: 5 Crazy Things That Happen When You Don’t Brush Your Tongue

It just might be: For the study, researchers took mouth samples from 122,000 people and after 10 years 106 people had developed oesophageal cancer.

The researchers discovered that people who developed oesophageal cancer were more likely to have higher levels of certain types of bacteria in their mouths.

Called Tannerella forsythia and Porphyromonas gingivalis, these two types of bacteria are also linked to gum disease. (Tannerella forsythia in particular was linked to a 21 percent increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer.)

These bacteria can take hold in your gums when you don’t brush regularly, increasing your odds of developing periodontal disease.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons Why Your Gums Are Bleeding When You Brush

However, it’s worth pointing out a few major caveats: One, the researchers didn’t have complete information on the study participants’ oral health, so it was hard for them to say if the bacteria alone caused throat cancer or if the participants actually had to have periodontal disease to have an increased risk.

Also, it’s important to remember that this study looked at the types of bacteria linked to oesophageal cancer, not teeth-brushing habits.

So it’s possible that the people who developed oesophageal cancer also just happened to have crummy oral hygiene.

READ MORE: “What Should I Do About These White Spots On My Teeth?!”

Still, the results are pretty disturbing. After all, periodontal disease has already been linked with some types of oral, head, and neck cancers, so clearly keeping your teeth clean is important for your overall health.

So seriously: Make it a point to brush your teeth twice a day. It could do a lot more for your overall health than you’d think.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com.