A recent study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University, and published in the Journal of Virology, indicates that there may be a causal link between the bacteria that causes gum disease and incidents of oral cancer.

The researchers analyzed how byproducts in the form of fatty acids from the bacteria present in gum disease may cause the growth of the lesions tumors in the mouth, otherwise known as Kaposi’s sarcoma, or KS.

This finding could result in the development of early saliva testing for such bacteria, making it possible to treat patients for signs of cancer, or cancer itself, prior to it becoming malignant.

What the study shows about gum disease

The study focused primarily on two specific types of bacteria: Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum, each of which are closely connected to gum disease. People with periodontal disease show higher levels of these bacteria in their saliva than the norm.

The goal of this study was to pinpoint why most people don’t develop this type of cancer and what it is that spares them from it.

KS affects many people with HIV because their immune systems are unable to battle many types of infections – including gum disease. KS initially appears as lesions on the mouth that could turn into malignant tumors. As with virtually all cancers, early detection is a key to surviving the disease.

To compile the data, 21 patients were studied. The first 11 had an average age of 50 and dealt with severe chronic gum disease. The other group of ten maintained good oral health and had an average age of 26. Numerous aspects of the saliva of each of the participants were studied, with the researchers primarily interested in the two types of bacteria, in addition to five short-chain fatty acids.

After first testing the byproducts, researchers concluded the fatty acids impacted the replication of KS. They then introduced clean versions of the fatty acids into cells with the KS virus to see what the reaction was. Essentially, the body was prevented from trying to stop the growth of KS. The study clearly magnifies the importance of oral health for people with HIV, as well as the population in general.

The doctors and staff at The Colorado Center for Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry are available to help you determine effective solutions to all of your dental problems. If you would like more information from your Littleton area Prosthodontist, please call to make an appointment today.

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