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The Dangers of Plaque

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, September 09, 2009 10:35 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Dental Health, Periodontitis, Cancer, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Gum Disease

Dental plaque and bacteria was linked to head and neck cancers in this study.

Healthy Mouth – Healthy Body 


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ flossing/ author: Walter Siegmund

Advanced gum disease may raise your risk of head and neck cancer. That is the finding of a new study on chronic periodontitis.

Published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, researchers from the University of Buffalo compared the rates of periodontitis in 226 people with head and neck cancer and 207 without cancer.

Each millimeter of bone loss from chronic periodontitis was linked to a fourfold risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, especially in the mouth and throat.

"Prevent periodontitis; if you have it already, get treatment and maintain good oral hygiene," research leader Dr. Mine Tezal, from the Buffalo, N.Y.- based Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher.

The cancer risk appeared to be roughly as high for chronic periodontitis patients, regardless of their tobacco use, says Tezal.

Periodontal or gum disease affects about 80 percent of adult Americans and can range from simple gum inflammation to damage to the soft tissue such as gingivitis and disease of the bone that can result in tooth loss.

Bacterial contamination comes from food and beverages with sugar and starches that form acid-releasing plaque that attacks the tooth enamel and can lead to gum disease.

To date science has found poor mouth health linked to heart disease, diabetes, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and premature birth, reports Web MD. The lead theory is that bacteria travels from the mouth into the bloodstream.

Cardiologists are encouraged to ask their patients about gum disease, and periodontists to ask about a family history of heart disease.

For patients, the solution is to remove the plaque with regular brushing and flossing as well as regular professional cleanings to remove tartar or hardened plaque. #

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