Bacteria Present in Gum Disease May Lead to Oral Cancer: How Dental Care Can Help Prevent It

Dental CareIn a study published in the Journal of Virology, researchers at Case Western Reserve University discovered that the by-products of bacteria found in gum disease (i.e. fatty acids) can lead to Kaposi sarcoma—cancer-related tumors and lesions in the mouth. Since Kaposi sarcoma can initially show up as mouth lesions and eventually turn into malignant tumors, early detection of this type of cancer is imperative.

This is why the study’s findings are quite outstanding; they could compel earlier saliva screening tests for bacteria—which can lead to earlier detection and treatment of oral cancer while also emphasizing the need for regular dental care.

The Study: Bacteria Associated with Gum Disease Linked to Cancer

The study’s main goal was to determine why most people don’t develop Kaposi sarcoma and what prevents them from developing this form of cancer. Researchers observed 21 patients: 11 were over the age of 50 and had severe gum disease while the other 10 patients were around 26 years of age and maintained good dental care.

The study looked at two main types of bacteria associated with gum disease: Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum. Researchers discovered that patients with periodontal disease had higher levels of these bacteria in their saliva.

Besides the two bacteria, the researchers also observed five short-chain fatty acids and discovered that the fatty acids affected the replication of the Kaposi sarcoma cells. When they inserted clean versions of the fatty acids into the cells, they discovered that the acids inhibited the growth of the cancerous cells.

The study concludes that oral health and the early detection of oral lesions and gum diseases are important factors when it comes to combating this type of oral cancer.

Can You Do to Help Prevent Oral Cancer?

Maintaining good oral hygiene is one way to keep bacteria at bay and prevent the development of oral cancer. Proper oral hygiene techniques include brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing, and using an antiseptic mouthwash.

If you notice any lesions in your mouth, book an appointment with your dentist immediately. If the lesion is caught early it can be treated before it has the chance to turn into a malignant tumor.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Etobicoke, then contact Princeview Dental. Though a saliva screening test for oral cancer is still in development, at Princeview Dental, we provide our patients with effective dental care service and screenings for oral cancer. Contact us today for more information.


“Bacteria-Causing Gum Disease May Lead to Oral Cancer Growth,” Dentistry Today web site, February 28, 2014;

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