What Is The Role Of Oral Health In Cancer?
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What Is The Role Of Oral Health In Cancer?

While your mouth is only a small part of your body, it plays a significant role in your overall health. For instance, oral issues can affect your ability to feed properly, leading to malnutrition. Similarly, a gum infection increases your risk of developing serious health issues like diabetes, heart problems, and certain cancers. It can also make these issues harder to manage or treat.

Among other oral conditions, oral cancer is a relatively concerning issue in dentistry. Each year, oral or mouth cancer accounts for 2-4% of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. Unfortunately, the oral cancer survival rate hasn’t improved over the years, primarily due to late diagnosis. Most cancers are treatable and reversible if caught in their early stages. Keep reading to learn the role of oral health in cancer.

The link between cancer and oral health

Research suggests that there’s a close connection between mouth and cancer. According to a British Journal of Cancer study, the bacteria that causes periodontitis or Treponema denticola (TD) can contribute to the development of mouth cancer and other cancers. The bacteria also increases the level of cancer mortality.

The TD bacteria is also found in malignant tumors in the digestive tract, most commonly in pancreatic cancer. The bacteria also has a primary enzyme that activates other proteins that assist cancer cells in attacking healthy tissues. It also inactivates enzyme inhibitor molecules, affecting the immune system’s effectiveness.

How oral health can affect cancer

Below are three main ways how oral health affects cancer:

  • Routine screening

Early diagnosis offers a better chance of stopping the development of cancer. The best chance of early detection of oral cancer and other types of cancers is having routine screenings. Generally, all cancers develop gradually. You’re unlikely to experience any discomfort or symptoms in the early stages. Therefore, cancer can go unnoticed for months or years, progressing gradually. Once vivid symptoms begin to show, cancer will likely have grown and spread, significantly reducing your chances of survival.

Most dentists perform oral cancer screenings during routine dental exams to look for signs of abnormal tissues or lesions. If they suspect any issues, they will conduct a biopsy to determine whether the cells are cancerous. These tests increase the chances of catching oral cancer early when there’s a better chance of reversing it. We offer oral cancer screenings in New Westminster.

  • Oral hygiene

As we’ve seen above, bacterial infections from the mouth can spread to other body parts, like the brain, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems.  This may significantly increase your risk of developing certain cancers and other serious health issues like heart disease.

Fortunately, you can prevent this through proper oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing daily, and routine dental assessments and cleanings will help keep the harmful bacteria at bay, reducing the risk of developing oral infections that could expose you to oral cancer and other cancers. If cancer has already developed, good oral hygiene can help manage it better, increasing the chance of survival.

  • Existing oral issues

Generally, untreated oral issues like gum disease expose your body to harmful infections. These greatly weaken your immune system, making you vulnerable to serious and life-threatening diseases like cancer and heart disease. Addressing oral issues like tooth decay and gum disease will clear infections and improve your immune system’s response and make it easier to fight off and manage potential infections much easier. Maintaining consistent dental care may help prevent cancer. Visit our New Westminster dental clinic for general dental care.

Schedule an appointment today

Do you need more information about oral health and its impact on oral and other cancers? Contact Asante Dental Centre to book your appointment today.