Gum disease is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth infecting and inflaming the gum tissue. It is a huge problem as many people will develop this condition, and if not treated promptly it can lead to tooth loss. Losing teeth is serious, but now scientists have discovered an even more worrying connection between the bacteria that cause gum disease and the growth of oral cancers.
The study was carried out at Case Western Reserve University and researchers found that by-products from two bacteria commonly found in gum disease can incite the growth of a certain type of pre-cancerous lesion in the mouth. Kaposi’s sarcoma first appears as lesions on surfaces in the mouth, and if these lesions are not removed they can go on to develop into malignant tumours. It’s been found that people with advanced gum disease or periodontal disease have high levels of these bacteria in their saliva, but people with good oral health have much lower levels.
This latest finding could eventually mean that people will have their saliva tested for these bacteria, and that if they are found then these people could be treated and monitored for any signs of tumours. People who could be more at risk are those with compromised immune systems, particularly people with HIV, or those who are on medications following organ transplants, as well as the elderly and cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy.
Oral Cancer Screenings at Amsel & Wilkins Can Pick up Early Signs
This is just the latest study to link poor oral health to a potentially life-threatening condition, and is yet another reason why it’s so important to practice good dental care. Oral cancer screenings are part of your regular dental checkup at Amsel & Wilkins, and Dr John Adams and all of our dentists in Oxfordshire would always encourage patients to get in touch if they are worried about any lesions in their mouth. Although these lesions are unlikely to be oral cancer, it’s always worth checking so any suspicious areas of skin can be quickly removed and appropriate treatment provided.
Regular dental check-ups are important as the condition of your gums will be thoroughly assessed through measuring the depth of any pockets that might be developing around your teeth. Pockets are caused by the gum tissue pulling away from the teeth, and this allows plaque bacteria to colonise the pockets, increasing the level of infection. Healthy gums fit tightly around the teeth so the bacteria cannot get into the gum tissue. If you have noticed any bleeding while brushing or flossing then now is the time to speak up as this is a sign that something is slightly wrong. At this early stage gum disease is often extremely easy to treat, and with proper care your gums could return to health within just a few short weeks.
Regular Hygiene Appointments Help Keep Gums Strong and Healthy
Oral cancer screenings are very important, but it’s just as vital to keep up with hygiene appointments. Making sure the teeth remain free from tartar will help to keep the gums strong and healthy, decreasing the chances of periodontal disease developing. The hygienists at Amsel & Wilkins are an important part of the dental team and work closely with the dentists to help ensure your oral health is as good as possible.