According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of American adults over the age of thirty have periodontal or gum disease. That equates to approximately 47.2 percent of the adult population, and that figure jumps to more than 70 percent for people over the age of 65. Now, there is also research to show that there is an increased risk of oral cancer with periodontal disease or tooth loss. For this reason, your periodontist in Worcester, Dr. Handsman or Dr. Jenny, routinely conduct oral cancer screenings whenever they see a patient for periodontal care. Read on to learn more about the link between periodontal disease and oral cancer.
Periodontal Disease and Oral Cancer
According to the website Perio-Implant Advisory, “chronic inflammation has been the rationale behind the association looking both at specific types of cancers and periodontal disease.” Where there is greater than 1.5 mm clinical attachment loss—referring to the detachment of periodontal tissue from tooth structure—there is an increased incidence of oral tumors or precancerous oral lesions. In fact, the risk is significant in patients who never smoked, as well. Additionally, tooth loss can be an independent risk factor for oral cancer because of the “chronic trauma and irritation of the oral mucosa, which may play a role in carcinogenesis.”
Lifestyle Risks and Oral Cancer
While risk factors may impact the likelihood of developing oral cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. That’s why some people with a number of risk factors do not develop the disease, while others without any risks do. One thing is certain: oral cancer risk is higher in people who smoke, drink alcohol, and have lost teeth without replacement. Tobacco use—cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco—accounts for approximately 85 percent of all head, neck and oral cancers. Add excessive alcohol consumption and the risk increases even more.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of oral cancer include:
- HPV Infection
- Gender (men develop oral cancer more than women)
- Fair skin
- Age (people over the age of 45 are more susceptible to oral cancer than younger people)
- Inadequate oral hygiene
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- A compromised immune system
- Marijuana use
An Oral Cancer Screening in Worcester
When you see Dr. Handsman or Dr. Jenny, they are on the look out for specific signs and symptoms that can point to cancerous or pre-cancerous tissue development. These include a sore anywhere on your lips or in your mouth; a red or white patch of soft tissue; a lump or thickening in your mouth or neck; and newly loose teeth or ill-fitting dentures. We look for any of these signs during a careful inspection of your entire oral cavity. Your neck, jaw and shoulders are also palpated to find lumps.
Contact Our Office Today
With an oral cancer screening during your visit for periodontal care, we are able to help prevent this disease. Call our office to learn more about oral cancer or to schedule an appointment.