The Importance of Oral Health in Cancer Prevention
Finnish researchers have found that the bacteria that cause periodontitis also play a role in the development of oral and other types of cancer. The findings highlight the importance of oral health in cancer prevention.
Much evidence has been found to establish the risks related to poor oral health. Without proper dental care, tiny pockets can form between your teeth and gums.
Eventually, the oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream and lead to other health problems. For example, oral infections that spread throughout the body raise the risks for heart disease and diabetes.
The Research on Oral Health in Cancer Prevention
Researchers at the University of Helsinki, the Helsinki University Hospital and the Karolinska Institutet now see a link between oral health and cancer prevention. The British Journal of Cancer published the study.
The study findings show that the bacteria behind gum disease seems to have a role in cancers. It shows a link in not only the onset of oral cancers but other cancers as well, including pancreatic cancer.
The research has proven that a mechanism exists on the molecular level that has an effect on the onset of cancer. In fact, the bacteria associated with gum disease also occurs in malignant tumors of the gastrointestinal tract.
Another study finding shows that an enzyme associated with this bacteria has the ability to activate enzymes used by cancer cells to invade healthy tissue. Likewise, the enzyme also diminished immune system effectiveness. For example, it inactivates enzyme inhibitors.
In a separate study, which was published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers proved that periodontitis is clearly linked with cancer mortality on the population level. Around 70,000 Finns took part in this follow-up study over a ten-year period.
The Importance of Regular Dental Exams
Regular dental exams don’t just keep your teeth healthy, they can help you maintain overall health. That is because, in addition to the usual cavity check, dentists perform numerous types of examinations during regular checkups.
Dentists and oral hygienists are constantly on the lookout for signs of gum disease. These include the following, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:
- Persistent bad breath
- Gums that are red, swollen, tender or bleeding
- Pain when chewing
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Receding gums or teeth that appear longer than normal
In light of the relation between gum disease and cancer, you should take these symptoms seriously. If you are experiencing any of the above problems, it may be time to schedule your next dental exam and cleaning.
Read next: Breaking Down Every Exam Your Dentist Performs During A Check Up