Periodontal Disease, Cancer, And Our Whole Body Health

Our bodies are a complex and integrated set of systems that is still the focus of intense study. For all that we know, there is still an immense amount that we discover with each passing year. One area of study remains of particular interest, and that is our immune systems and the connections between diseases. Cancer is one particular area of study that continues to remain prominent. One surprising discovery is that there may be a connection between periodontal disease and increased rates of cancer.

Periodontal Disease, Cancer, And Our Whole Body Health

Almost everyone will experience gingivitis during their lives, often to no great ill effect. While it is a common and often easy condition to resolve, it can be dangerous. When left untreated, it can worsen and develop into periodontal disease. At this stage, it can begin to cause serious oral health concerns. Among these concerns can be decay at the roots, disintegrating bone in the jaw, and gum recession. Recent studies have revealed that another potential risk is one of many forms of cancer. Protecting yourself from cancer, as well as other oral health concerns, requires consistent oral health care.

The first signs of gingivitis are a minor inflammation of the gums, usually accompanied by some tenderness. Gums affected by this disease have a tendency to bleed when brushed and can be sensitive. When not cared for, it will develop into periodontal disease and cause advanced tooth decay. As mentioned above, oral cancer becomes more prominent among those with advanced periodontal disease. In addition, risks of other diseases occur:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Esophagus Cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Hormonal concerns

The Journal Of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention published studies that revealed these increased risks. The increase in the risk of developing cancer found in another study was as much as 28% for those with periodontal disease. The evidence presented so far has yet to cause the ADA to encourage additional screening for those with periodontal disease. This may change in years to come, as the evidence connecting oral health and cancer continues to increase.

Steps You Can Take To Prevent These Risks

The first step in protecting your oral health is establishing a stable oral health routine. This begins with brushing your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. Follow this with thorough flossing of your teeth, and finish it off with an antibacterial mouthwash. You can also make certain dietary choices that will help reduce your risk of tooth decay and gingivitis. Limit the number of carbohydrates and sugar that you consume. In addition, avoid acidic foods and drinks that can weaken your enamel. If you enjoy coffee, consider taking it black. There is evidence that suggests that undoctored coffee can help protect your teeth.

Finally, the most important thing you can do is see your dentist twice a year. This practice ensures that your overall oral health is monitored. Oral cancer is relatively easy to treat, provided that it’s caught early. It also happens to be one of the things that your dentist checks for during every visit.

April Toyer, DDS, FAAPD
April Toyer, DDS, FAAPD

The team at Lifetime Dental Care brings a full range of services to patients in and around the Woodbridge, VA area. These four doctors bring a range of experience, diverse backgrounds, and professional knowledge together to provide families with a safe and friendly home for their oral health needs.


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