Could Healthy Gums Lower Cancer Risk?

posted: October 06, 2018

Research has shown an indisputable correlation between the bacteria of gum disease and a number of serious health problems. This occurs because the infectious bacteria of gum disease can migrate to other parts of the body, triggering problems elsewhere in the body.

Oral bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. Once bloodborne, they have been found to trigger inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth.

Periodontal disease bacteria are highly destructive. They destroy teeth, gums and bone structures that support tooth roots. This disease will only worsen without treatment. Symptoms include swollen and tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, persistent bad breath, and gums that darken in color.

Eventually, pus pockets form on gums and some teeth may loosen. To no surprise, advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Findings now reveal that advanced gum disease can cause the release of inflammatory components, enzymes and other factors that have been linked to the development of some cancers.

Highly concerning, the National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly half of adults in the U.S. have some level of the disease, even though it is one of the most preventable of all diseases. It is hoped that the recent revelations that link oral bacteria to serious health conditions may lead to heightened awareness to its prevalence. And, thus, more efforts to avoid or successfully treat it.

For many years, it was suspected that chronic infections and inflammation are associated with a higher risk of developing cancer. This prompted more research to focus on deeper studies into the relationship between bacterial and viral infections and carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis is the process that causes normal cells to mutate into cancerous cells.

For example, one study of over 48,000 American men between ages 40 – 75 showed that participants with a history of periodontal disease had a 14 percent higher risk of cancer than those without gum disease. This was after adjustments were made for risk factors such as smoking and diet.

It was also found that, of those with a history of periodontal disease, their susceptibility to certain cancers came with a 30 percent or higher risk. The study showed that a history of periodontal disease increased the risk of lung cancer by 36 percent, kidney cancer by 49 percent, pancreatic cancer by 54 percent, and caused a 30 percent higher risk of blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.

The study also showed that even non-smoking participants with periodontal disease still had a 35 percent higher risk of blood cancers as well as a 21 percent overall increased risk for cancer.

Chinese researchers also conducted a study of over 321,000 men and women, adjusting for those who were diabetic, drank alcohol and/or smoked. They found a much greater lung cancer risk in the participants who had periodontal disease with women who had gum disease having a higher risk of developing lung cancer than men.

If you have symptoms of gum disease, it is important that you have treatment promptly. In our office, we treat patients gently, respectfully and to the highest standards and make appropriate recommendations for the individualized needs of each patient.

Begin by calling 843-871-6351 to schedule a no-charge consultation appointment. If dental fear is an issue, we can discuss comfort options, including oral and I.V. sedation. We can also discuss payment plans that helps to finance treatment into easy, monthly payments.