Metro Dental Health
11150 Fairfax Boulevard
Fairfax, VA 22030
Metro Dental Health
2112 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Connection Between Gum Disease and Cancer
Gum disease is a bacterial inflammatory infection of the gums. It starts with gingivitis, which when left untreated eventually results in tooth decay and loss. Research findings show that gum disease has a major impact on the overall health of the body. Gum disease is a risk factor for serious health conditions.
Experts claim there is a connection between gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, and specific types of cancer. After considering other cancer risk factors such as old age, smoking, body mass index (BMI) and diabetes, researchers identified a connection between periodontal disease and different types of cancers, in smokers and non-smokers.
Gum disease is a risk factor for cancer of the kidney and pancreas. It is also a contributing factor for head, neck and mouth cancers. Experts say it promotes lung cancer and hematologic cancers such as leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In addition to the inflammation response, experts believe that the oral biofilm and a weakened immune system caused by periodontal disease increases cancer incidents in patients of gum disease.
How Does Gum
Disease Cause Cancer?
Periodontal disease raises the number of oral bacteria, gastric acidity and nitrosamines in the oral cavity. All of which are cancer-promoting agents. Experts believe this response increases the number of carcinogens in the pancreas, promoting pancreatic cancer by about 54%.
The bacteria responsible for periodontal disease trigger an inflammatory response that releases tissue-destroying toxins that destroy tissue and bones. Researchers believe that this inflammation promotes the growth of carcinogens, thereby increasing the risk for cancer.
The oral biofilm consists of millions of bacteria that coexist in harmony in the mouth. Disruption of the balance between these bacteria triggers the release of disease-causing pathogens responsible for gum disease and inflammatory conditions. These pathogens weaken the body's immune system, making the body susceptible to infections and inflammatory conditions including cancer.
Gum disease promotes diabetes and cancer, at the same time, diabetes increases the risk of having cancer.
Smoking is a risk factor for both cancer and gum disease and could explain the occurrence of cancer and gum disease at the same time in smokers.
Treating Periodontal Disease to Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Even as experts conduct more studies to identify the exact link between cancer and periodontal disease and obtain conclusive evidence on whether gum disease does cause cancer, the possible association means gum disease is a serious condition. We should all take proper care of our teeth to prevent gum disease and other oral infections as well as go for regular dental evaluations to identify any gum problems and seek immediate treatment.