Periodontal Disease and Your Cancer Risk

Oral Cancer

Periodontal disease is one of the most significant and most challenging oral diseases faced by people daily. When bacteria begin to infect the gums and even begin infecting the tooth roots and jaw structures, causing irreversible damage that cannot be repaired naturally, but if you’ve ever wondered about the long-term consequences of periodontal disease can be, the periodontal disease ultimately affects almost all aspects of our lives, as bacteria, disease, and our bodies are intricately connected with how our mouths process and handle bacteria. In some cases, research has found that periodontal disease could potentially correlate with cancer.

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease is the advanced version of gum disease. Gum disease occurs when plaque accumulates so much along with the enamel of the teeth that the bacteria inside the plaque begins to infect the bloodstream and tissues inside the gums. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease as it is the mildest form of infection along the gums causing redness and irritation. However, when left untreated for more extended periods and without good oral hygiene, then this mild, treatable condition can turn into periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can have severe complications for your oral health, causing issues that include:

  • Excessive Bleeding/Puffy Gums: Some of the more apparent symptoms of periodontal disease include bleeding from the gums when touched, extreme puffiness, and redness along the tooth line. These symptoms should be seen by a dentist right away to receive treatment.
  • Gum Recession: Gum recession also often occurs with periodontal disease, as the bacteria infecting the gums eats away at the tissues over time and causes the tooth’s roots to become more exposed.
  • Tooth decay: Cavities are usually accompanied by periodontal disease due to the significant presence of bacteria within the mouth. During periodontal disease, the bacteria eat away at the tooth roots and thus can infect the inner tooth and cause the tooth as a whole to decay fully, leading to necrotic teeth.
  • Jawbone Degradation: Besides infecting the teeth and gums, periodontal disease can even get into the jawbone and leave behind irreversible damage.


The Long-Term Consequences of Periodontal Disease

Beyond the immediate effects on your teeth and gums, some researchers have even begun connecting periodontal disease to cancer. According to some studies, people with periodontal disease have a 28% risk for certain types of cancers, including oral cancer, melanoma, and esophagus cancer. Periodontal disease can also increase the risk for more frequent respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease due to how bacteria can easily infect the bloodstream and affect overall body health.

Periodontal disease is a severe risk to your oral health, but luckily one of the best ways to begin receiving treatment is through your dentist. Your dentist will be able to help treat and prevent this disease from reoccurring through long-standing treatment plans that work to reduce your risks. Our goals as dentists are to keep your teeth healthy and clean, so make sure to schedule your appointment today for your regular checkup and cleaning!


Alireza Movassaghi, D.D.S and Other Dentist Torrance Dental Associates is proud to be the home of Dr. Alireza Movassaghi, a USC School of Dentistry Graduate with 30 years of experience. His mission is to expand access to dental care throughout the Los Angeles area. When not engaged in providing expert dental care for his patients, he's taking in the latest soccer game and enjoying fine cars.
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