Are oral and dental diseases linked to cancer?

Oral Dis. 2011 Nov;17(8):779-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2011.01837.x. Epub 2011 Aug 8.


Objective: Infection and inflammation play a role in carcinogenesis, and highly prevalent oral and dental diseases have been significantly linked to some types of cancer. This article reviews current literature in this area.

Materials and methods: Open literature review using the PubMed database and focused on publications from 2000 to 2010.

Results: Numerous potential mechanisms are implicated in the oral disease/carcinogenesis paradigm, including infection- and inflammation-associated cell pathology and microbial carcinogen metabolism. Poor oral hygiene is associated with oral cancer, but there is also evidence of a possible link between oral or dental infections and malignancies in general.

Conclusion: Oral infections may trigger malignant transformation in tissues of the mouth and other organs. However, scientific evidence to date remains weak and further well-conducted studies are warranted before cancer can be properly added to the list of oral infection-related systemic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infections
  • Inflammation
  • Mouth Diseases / complications*
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Tooth Diseases / complications*


  • Carcinogens