Dr. Kang in Media

CBS Newspath Interview
Gum Disease Linked to Cancer

September 16, 2009

Diane Felsi has a toothache.
"Sensitivity to hot and cold, and pain," she said.

She has a common gum disease called chronic periodontitis. Now a new study finds it may put you at higher risk for head and neck cancers.

"Chronic periodontitis is caused by bacterial infection, leading to inflammation around the gums and bone around the teeth," said Dr. Philip Kang, a periodontist.

The gum disease causes bone loss. In the study of nearly 500 patients, for every
millimeter lost the risk of head and neck cancer increased more than four times.

That included patients who never smoked.

"It can be used to explain why the rate of head and neck cancer continues to climb
despite decreases in the smoking rates," Kang said.

Gum disease prevention is key. That means you have to brush and floss daily and get regular cleanings at the dentist.

"Get rid of all the plaque and calculus buildup around your teeth," Kang said.

And be on alert for the symptoms of gum infection; swollen or red gums that bleed
easily, bad breath and gums that are receding; exposing more tooth than normal.
It's something Diane is concerned about it.

"It's linked to diseases," she said.

So she will do what it takes to keep herself and her smile healthy.

Philip Kang in CBS