We have heard of Mouth & Throat cancer.

Can Cancer affect the Teeth in Humans?

If No, Why?

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    You've got a bunch of links there but none of them seem to have anything to do with teeth and cancer. I'm particularly curious why the google search you included wasn't teeth + cancer. Wouldn't that be the obvious place to start? Also, you need to clarify what you mean by "affect." Do you mean does cancer actually occur within teeth or do you mean does it affect them in any way? – Carey Gregory Sep 11 '20 at 1:18
  • Thanks Gregory. I mean Is Cancer spreading to Teeth in Humans is rare or not?. I mean can the cancer spread from Mouth or Throat to Teeth? Or the Cancer in Teeth is occurring in first place? – Prashant Akerkar Sep 11 '20 at 4:37
  • Please edit your question to reflect this last comment. Also, please remove the generic links to Google. – Thomas Sep 12 '20 at 11:37

The basic structure of tooth consists of

  1. Outermost layer, enamel
  2. Next layer, dentin
  3. Innermost vital, vascularised tissue, pulp
  4. Hard tissue layer covering the root ( root doesn't have enamel), i. e. Cementum enter image description here


Now enamel is a non vital tissue, having no cells, and vasculature. Reference

Similarly dentin too doesn't have any cells, but has processes of cells in pulp(odontoblasts) , known as dentinal tubules.

Hence even if tooth cancer is to happen, it will affect the pulpal cells, including the odontoblasts and their processes in dentin.

Now talking about the odontoblasts, There is an interesting article It says that-

The combination of cell contact and mechanical stressing can be related to models describing the significance of inter-cellular mechanical interactions in contact inhibition of proliferation (CIP).

The model also could theoretically account for potential neoplastic behavior of odontoblasts if there was an initial disruption of tooth morphogenesis. Possibly, in those rare cases, in which an expansile odontogenic tumor contains dentin-producing odontoblasts, the cells are more than passive participants responding to inductive signals from neoplastic epithelial cells.

Further for other cells of pulp, which include fibroblasts, defence cells, eg histiocytes, Again quoting an interesting article

Malignant tumours affecting the dental pulp are predominantly found in fully emerged teeth of mature patients (in their fifth to sixth decade of life)

According to this article

Dental pulp neoplasms (DPNs) rare tumors of the dental pulp tissue which is not exposed to the oral cavity. Two types of DPNs can be distinguished: Type 1 originates from the dental pulp itself (primary DPN) and type 2 originates from tissue outside of the tooth (secondary DPN).

Further the previous article says,

There is no reason why cells of the dental pulp, such as fibroblasts, pericytes, stem cells and epithelial cell rests of Malassez, should not act in the same way, as all these cells have mitotic competence, which can be shown by the disease pattern of pulp polyps. Because of the anatomically restricted space of the dental pulp, any clonal growth of the tumour would be limited and further associated with necrosis. And tumour expansion would increase the intrapulpal pressure, as would the resulting formation of hard tissue, which can even result in the strangulation of pulpal tissue.

Additionally, the more apical the tumour growth, the higher the risk of a haemorrhagic infarct of the pulp, thus limiting its growth by itself. Because sarcoma has the capacity to exist in the dental pulp, predictions can be made about the tumours potential to metastasize. Chandler and colleagues’ states that the necessary cell mass for haematogenic metastasis of individual clonal cells is 106 cells, which equates to a spatial volume of about 1 cm3. Such a volume is not usually provided by the endodontic macroenvironment.

However all these were for fully mature erupted teeth. There is a class of tumors known as odontogentic tumors and these are common. Eg. Ameloblastoma

odontogenic tumors arise from the tissues which make our teeth, they are unique to the jaws, and by extension almost unique to dentistry. These develop from the epithelium and/or Ectomesenchyme tissue while the tooth is developing. Reference

Hence 'cancer of tooth' the topic itself comprises of vast number of possibilities (thereby making this answer too long!!) Hope I have satisfactorily answered your question :)

  • Thanks. Can you classify Cancer of the Teeth in Humans as rare or not? – Prashant Akerkar Sep 12 '20 at 6:27
  • @Prashant Akerkar talking solely of an erupted tooth, the cancer of/in pulp is rare, as stated in the answer. Cancer of tissues taking part in development of tooth, i.e. odontogenic tumors are common. – Ojasvi Sep 12 '20 at 7:02
  • Thanks. "odontogenic tumors" can be classified as Cancer? – Prashant Akerkar Sep 12 '20 at 7:48
  • @Prashant Akerkar definitely! – Ojasvi Sep 12 '20 at 8:30
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    @PrashantAkerkar I'm rather surprised you haven't accepted this excellent answer. – Carey Gregory Sep 12 '20 at 15:21

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