Are Gum Diseases and Cancer Linked?
Over years, numerous studies have shown that the bacteria responsible for causing gum diseases might also be able to cause certain types of cancer. Read to Know More.
Gum diseases are mostly caused by sticky, bacteria-laden plaque which forms on teeth. It is known as gingivitis in early stages during which gums can be swollen and they bleed easily.
If untreated for long, it can lead to severe periodontal disease which causes inflammation around teeth. In such situation, gums pull away from the teeth pockets, thus increasing the chances of accumulation for food particles and eventually bacteria.
Numerous studies have shown that the bacteria responsible for causing gum diseases might also be able to cause certain types of cancer.
According to a published study, women with gum disease are 14% more likely to develop cancer as compared to those who had healthy teeth and gums. This link appears to be the most significant for esophageal cancer, but connections have also been known to be found between poor oral health and gallbladder, breast, lung and skin cancer.
Similarly, researchers found that men with a history of periodontal disease had a 14% higher risk of developing cancer as opposed to those without a history of the oral condition. Those with a history were found to have a 49% increased risk of acquiring kidney cancer, a 54% higher risk of pancreatic cancer and a 30% greater risk of white blood cell cancers.
Now let's take a look at what various studies have to say about the link between gum diseases and different kinds of cancers.
A published study linked periodontal or gum disease caused by not brushing your teeth on a regular basis with esophageal cancer. It was discovered that people with esophageal cancer were highly likely to have greater levels of certain types of bacteria in their mouths. These bacteria were also linked to gum diseases.
Mouth and Throat Cancers
A certain study involving cancer patients from nine countries revealed a direct link between poor oral hygiene and development of certain mouth and throat cancers. Subjects with infected gums as well as those with full and partial dentures were at a higher risk of developing cancer in their mouth and throat.
Mostly, people who wore dentures were found to be in the poor oral health group as they believed that because they don't have their own teeth, there is less need to see a dentist. This greatly increased their chances of oral health issues such as gum diseases.
Researchers have found in a study that periodontal disease was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. In fact, the study found a higher association among the non-smokers as compared to those who smoked. Another study also reported that individuals with periodontitis had higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Infected gums increase your chances of lung cancer also. This is because, when your gums become inflamed and infected, the toxins and the disease-causing pathogens can permeate tissues, enter your blood-stream and travel to other parts of your body as well. They can come in contact with your esophagus and stomach when you swallow or even end up in your lungs through the process of pulmonary aspiration.
Upper GI and Gastric Cancers
A case-control study showed twice the risk of gastric and upper GI cancers in people who had 10 or more missing teeth. A significant dose-response relationship between the odds of developing gastric cancer and the number of teeth lost has been observed.
What measures can you take to reduce the risk of cancer?
Now that you are aware about how gum diseases can put you at risk of various types of cancers, let's take a look at some simple measures which can help you reduce the risk of cancer:
Maintain a good oral hygiene routine with daily brushing and flossing. This will prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and help reduce the chances of any infections or oral health issues.
Go for regular dental checkups to your family dentist so that any gum diseases can be detected at their onset itself
Ask your family dentist about annual oral screening
Keep a tab of your oral health
Avoid consumption of tobacco and alcohol
Your oral health is more intricately linked to your overall physical health than you can imagine. Hence, a good oral hygiene routine and regular visits to your family dentist are crucial for a healthy smile and a healthy you.
A dental marketer at Michael G. Long DDS, Fresno, CA and a believer in holistic health, Grace lives by the rule that health and happiness go hand in hand. She writes on various dental topics focusing on healthy living and holistic health. When she’s not working or blogging, she enjoys spending her time with her family and volunteering at the local youth centers where she educates children about the importance of health and fitness.