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The Disturbing Link Between Oral Cancer And Periodontal Disease

Man with oral cancer

Researchers have begun linking periodontal disease with an increased risk of cancer. Periodontal disease is considered an advanced form of gum disease that directly attacks the gums and also has the ability to increase other health issues later on in life. However, understanding cancer and illnesses that increase its risks is an ever-ongoing topic that many don’t often have the answers to. Because of how complex our bodies are, many researchers and medical professionals often correlate illnesses to one another because of the commonalities and connections made when looking at these diseases. The prevalence of diseases in our lives is significant enough that many have been looking at diseases such as periodontal disease as a potential factor. 

But can periodontal disease increase your risk for cancer? To best understand this, we’re here to look at the effects of periodontal disease, how it affects your oral health, and what current research says about periodontal disease and cancer. 


The Risks of Periodontal Disease To Your Health 

The harmful strains of bacteria that infect our teeth and gums can be drastically harmful to our health, but when it turns into periodontal disease, it often leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory illness. For those who don’t know about periodontal disease, this disease often develops in multiple stages:


  • Gingivitis: When plaque develops along with the enamel of your teeth, the bacteria within that plaque can begin to infect the gums. Once it reaches the gums, the tissues and ligaments become inflamed and tender, often showing mild signs of redness. However, as the mildest form of this disease, it can easily be treated through regular brushing sessions, mouthwashes, and visits to your dentist. 
  • Gum Disease: As the more moderate form of this disease, the gums will increase in redness, tenderness, swelling, and bleeding. Once it reaches gum disease, it can be difficult to manage to brush and floss your teeth, and having a professional cleaning can help remove the strains of bacteria that infect the gum line and tooth enamel. However, it can easily shift from gum disease to periodontal disease at this stage. 
  • Periodontal Disease: Periodontal disease often causes the gums to progress to the point where the gum tissues and ligaments have a difficult time maintaining the teeth and jawbone, as the bacteria has progressed to the point where it eats away at the tissues themselves, causing degradation. The bacteria also infect the bloodstream and cause an immune system decline, and infects the jawbone, causing the bone to degrade as well. 


Why Getting Treatment For Periodontal Disease Matters

Periodontal disease often connects to cancer because of how the bacteria within the bloodstream affects the immune systems’ response to bacteria cells. Studies from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute cite that periodontal disease increases the risk of cancer by 14 to 20%. Within this study, researchers report that the risk of lung and colorectal cancer is elevated and that they did not observe any associations with other cancers, such as breast cancer and lymphatic cancer. 

Even while the link between periodontal disease and cancer needs more citing behind it, getting treatment for periodontal disease is ever more important for your oral health. Finding a dentist for treatment is the best solution towards removing periodontal disease for good. 

Dr. Shadi Heidarian Heritage Park Dental has diligently served the Palo Alto, Atherton, and San Francisco areas with friendly and effective dental care for more than 12 years under the guidance of Dr. Shadi Heidarian. Every year Dr. Heidarian continues to advance her dentistry expertise to guarantee her patients the latest and most effective treatments.
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