What is Gum Disease?
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What is Gum Disease
Gum (periodontal) disease is a bacterial infection of your gums. It has several stages, from mild through severe, and can ultimately result in tooth loss.

Bacteria live in a fine, sticky film (plaque) that forms on the teeth. This plaque can accumulate and harden. This hardened material, called tartar or calculus, eventually causes irritation, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums. This is gingivitis, which is reversible when treated early.

Left untreated, the plaque and tartar extends beneath the gum line. Toxins from the bacteria create a chronic (long-term) inflammatory response, as the body attempts to defend itself against the bacterial invasion. The gum tissue begins pulling away form the teeth, forming pockets that become infected. This is periodontitis. If not dealt with, the pockets deepen, eventually destroying the underlying bone and tissue supporting the teeth.

Many things play a role in determining whether or not an individual develops periodontal disease, including genetics, oral hygiene, smoking history, eating habits, and other medical conditions a person might have, just as diabetes.

Periodontists, such as Drs. Klauser and Chen, are dental specialists who provide care to prevent and treat periodontal disease, as well as providing dental implants to replace teeth lost to any cause. Periodontists receive an additional three years of training beyond basic dental school, as well as specialized training in the art and science of dental implants.

At Arcadia Perio Care, we seek to provide the best and least-invasive solution possible to treat periodontal disease. Our goal is to restore and preserve periodontal health. We have a wide variety of techniques and technologies at our disposal, from root planing and scaling to crown lengthening and dental implants. We create an individualized care plan for every patient, based on his or her unique history, needs, and even genetics.

Periodontal Disease Increases Cancer Risk

Brushing and flossing might reduce the risk of cancer, researchers said.
Periodontal disease, which can be prevented by good oral hygiene, has systemic implications, including an increase in markers of inflammation.
Study also finds that a history of periodontal disease is associated with an increased risk of cancer, although it is not clear why and further study is needed.

That's because a large prospective cohort study has revealed a significant link between periodontal disease -- which can be prevented by good oral hygiene -- and the risk of cancer, according to Dominique Michaud, Sc.D., of Imperial College London and colleagues. Participants with a history of periodontal disease had a 14% increased risk of cancer compared with volunteers without disease, Dr. Michaud and colleagues reported in the June issue of  Lancet Oncology . The finding comes from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, questionnaire-based research started in 1986 and including 51,529 American male health professionals ages 40 to 75. Participants filled in the original questionnaire and most have since answered subsequent surveys every two years. For the current analysis, data was available from 48,375 men with a median follow-up of 17.7 years, the researchers said. The surveys included questions on oral health, loss of teeth, history of periodontal disease, a range of lifestyle factors (including smoking), and new cancer diagnoses. All told, 40,512 participants had no history of periodontal disease, and 7,863 did, the researchers said. The researchers found 5,720 incident cancer cases, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer and non-aggressive prostate cancer. The five most common cancers were colorectal (1,043 cases), melanoma of the skin (698 cases), lung (678), bladder (543), and advanced prostate (541). The researchers adjusted for known risk factors, including smoking and diet, and found that the hazard ratio for cancer among those with a history of periodontal disease was 1.14, with a 95% confidence interval from 1.07 to 1.22. Dr. Michaud and colleagues found significant associations ( P 0.05) between a history of periodontal disease and several cancers, including:
  • A 36% increase in risk of lung cancer (95% CI 1.15 to 1.60)
  • A 49% increase in the risk of kidney cancer (95% CI 1.12 to 1.97)
  • A 54% increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer (95% CI 1.16 to 2.04)
  • And a 30% increase in the risk of hematologic cancers, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma (HR 1.30, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.53)

Taken individually, the hazard ratios for the blood cancers were all of approximately the same magnitude, but only non-Hodgkin's lymphoma -- with a hazard ratio of 1.31 -- reached significance, the researchers said. This is the first report of such a link and "should be interpreted with caution," Dr. Michaud and colleagues said. Nevertheless, the consistency of the hazard ratios "suggests that the associations might not be because of chance" and warrants further investigation, they said. The study is limited by the self-reports of periodontal disease and by inadequate power to study less common cancers, the researchers said. Also, because it was done in men, the findings might not apply to women. Dr. Michaud and colleagues said the findings need confirmation, but suggest that periodontal disease might be either a marker of a susceptible immune system or might directly affect cancer risk.

Dental Facts
Over the last ten years, the proportion of people age 60 who've lost all their teeth has decreased from 33% to 25%.


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