Oral cancer accounts for just 2-4% of all cancers, but that number is on the rise. Because of the lack of pain associated with oral cancer, early detection and treatment plans are unfortunately rare. Gum disease is also often undertreated due to a lack of noticeable symptoms. Gum disease, if left untreated, can have a whole host of effects on your mouth and body — including the loss of your teeth. New research suggests that gum disease and oral cancer may be more related than we thought.
What is Porphyromonas gingivalis?
Now, porphyromonas gingivalis — bacteria found in chronic gum disease — is being blamed partially for the development of oral cancer. P. gingivalis is the bacteria “most highly associated with the chronic form of periodontitis, and can be detected in up to 85% of the disease sites,” according to a study in the Journal of Periodontology.
According to nutritional periodontist Dr. Alvin Danenberg, “the aggressive behavior in dental plaque may be a direct result of chronic systemic inflammation and a compromised host response. Once P. gingivalis becomes pathogenic, the immune system has a difficult time killing it.”
As a chronic condition, P. gingivalis is capable of not only causing damage to the periodontal region, but also spreading to other parts of the body, causing other diseases. A study found that oral cancer cells and cancer stem cells became more aggressive after repeated infection by P. gingivalis.
Treating gum disease to prevent oral cancer
Treatment of P. gingivalis, then, is critical in the prevention of oral cancer. The LANAP protocol is a treatment method that can get into the spaces underneath the gum tissues around the teeth that are infected with P. gingivalis. It’s also the only treatment method FDA cleared as scientifically proven to regenerate bone and tissue lost to gum disease.
Making sure you are regularly seeing your dentist and asking them to scan for gum disease is the first step to making sure your oral health stays in tip top shape. Don’t let something that seems mild snowball into a life-changing event.
- Both gum disease and oral cancer are undertreated due to lack of symptoms
- New research suggests a link between the bacteria that causes gum disease, P. gingivalis, and oral cancer
- The spread of P. gingivalis from your mouth to the rest of your body can also cause other illnesses, including other types of cancer
- Regular dental checkups and effective treatment of gum disease are necessary to ensure both your oral and overall health