Advances in science and technology over the last century have greatly expanded the knowledge of infection. And its consequences in oral health is that of periodontal diseases. Periodontal or gum diseases are infectious in nature which may be affected by environmental, physical, social and host stresses. Periodontal disease has a direct relation with heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, pregnancy, COPD, acute respiratory infections to name a few. Recently it has been linked with an increased risk of malignancy cancer. Does Gum Disease Have Higher Risk For Cancer?
Researchers say that advanced gum disease is associated with an increased risk of cancer.Tufts University
What causes periodontitis or gum disease?
Periodontitis caused by gram negative anaerobic microorganisms resulting in inflammation of gums. Leading to attachment and bone loss causing pocket formation and recession. There chronic release of inflammatory cytokines, prostaglandins, growth factors, enzymes all of which closely associated with development of cancer.
Research claims that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can travel from mouth directly into the lungs or from the mouth directly into the colon giving rise to colon cancer causing an inflammatory reaction that could increase the risk for carcinogenesis.
“A small but non statistically significant increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer seen in patients with severe gum disease.“
Pancreas is not open to the oral cavity. But there are other ways that bacteria can end up in an organ. For example bacteria can enter into the blood stream from bleeding gums and it might circulate and deposit in an organ causing an inflammatory reaction.
Does Gum Disease Have Higher Risk For Cancer? May be yes.
Poor oral hygiene may also increase the risk of oral cancer. Malnutrition, dietary deficiency of iron, vitamin A and C may also be some factors that increase the risk for oral cancer. Smoking, Tobacco and alcohol also known as carcinogens. Poor oral hygiene with tobacco and alcohol have additive effects on oral cancer i.e. it aids in the carcinogenic potential of these two substances. Hence, Factors contributing to poor oral hygiene include irregular tooth brushing, Infrequent visits to a dentist, poor socio-economic status, lower level of education and habits.
In up to 28 years of follow-up, people with a history of periodontal (gum) disease were 43% more likely to develop esophageal cancer and 52% more likely to develop gastric (stomach) cancer compared with people whose gums were healthier. Severe Gum Disease Leads to Higher Risk of Cancer.Tufts University
Hence, Squamous cell carcinoma constitutes the major cancer of the oral cavity. The sites involved are tongue, floor of the mouth, gums, cheek.
Correlation has also found between Candida Albicans and oral cancer. Hence, Patients presenting with poor oral hygiene may develop opportunistic infections. Also, Candidiasis, one of the commonest lesions seen in immunocompromised patients . P. gingivalis is one of the prime pathogens to cause periodontitis. It has reported to cause invasion and metastasis of highly invasive oral cancers.
Thus Severe Gum Disease Leads to Higher Risk of Cancer. As oral cavity is a foci of infection sound knowledge of oral health and maintaining proper oral hygiene are essential for prevention of oral diseases which may also mean prevention of more serious health outcomes such as cancer.
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