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Recent studies, from universities worldwide, point to a link between some cancers and gum disease. The studies show that exposure to gum disease increases the chances of succumbing to a cancer-related death. This link re-emphasizes the significance of oral health.

Risks of Gum Disease

Gum disease or periodontitis is an infection that damages the soft tissue in the mouth. Without treatment, gum disease can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. Periodontitis is preventable which is why routine visits to the dentist are important.

Findings from a Harvard Health study published in 2016 show that the bacteria that cause gum disease might also cause specific types of cancer. In particular it has been linked to pancreatic cancer.

Additional studies completed over a twenty year period and published in 2017, show that “women with periodontal disease had a 14% higher overall cancer risk than women without gum disease — and a higher risk specifically of breast, lung, and esophageal cancers, and melanoma.”

Cancer Triggers

Advanced gum disease likely increases the risk of cancer because of the following reasons:

• Changes in immune responses
• The spread of harmful bacteria
• Harmful activated enzymes

Gum Disease Bacteria and Cancer

A new study by researchers from the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital in Finland noted that Td-CTLP, an enzyme found in the mouth, was also observed in particular cancerous tumors. The bacteria lead to the growth of cancer tumors in other parts of the body.

This enzyme, Td-CTLP, acts as an agent that boosts the development of gum disease.

Researchers have found that Td-CTLP is also capable of activating other enzymes. Cancer cells use the enzymes, such as pro-MMP-8 and pro-MMP-9, to impinge on healthy cells in your body. This proves that the activities by Td-CTLP control carcinogenesis.

As a result, the enzyme can make the responses of your immune system less effective. The actions of the enzyme on enzyme inhibitors produce cancer-friendly enzymes that extend to more healthy cells.

Therefore, it is important that you maintain high standards of oral hygiene. Our dentists recommend drinking fluoridated water, flossing daily, and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste twice per day.

For more information about gum disease and how to keep your smile protected and healthy, contact us. We are here to help.