Is Gum Disease A Cancer Risk?

If you’ve ever bled while brushing your gums, had a little inflammation along the gum line, or worried that your gums seemed a bit lower than they used to be you’re probably familiar with gum disease. We see a lot of patients at Marineland Dental Care who are looking for gum disease treatment and when caught early it’s a simple fix!

When gum disease is left to progress you can end up with serious side effects! One of the most alarming and concerning is one that you might not even expect – chronic gum disease has been linked to increased chances of cancers of the head and neck!

What Is Gum Disease?

It all starts with the bacteria in your mouth. We all have it, and not all of it is friendly. There’s a lot of bacteria in your mouth that love to feed on sugars you eat and when they do it’s metabolized into acid. That acid damages your teeth, hurts your gums, and is generally destructive to your oral health.

That same bacteria also loves to find places where you can’t get to it. Beneath your gums, unfortunately, is the perfect place! Once it gets in below your gumline it spreads and begins to irritate your gums a lot! In the initial stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, you’ll notice red, inflamed gums that might darken over time. They also might pull away from your teeth or recede lower and lower.

Left untreated, gingivitis can develop into full-fledged gum disease. At this stage you’ll see a lot of the same symptoms but to a far worse degree. Gum disease patients see further and further gum recession, bone loss around their teeth, loosening teeth, and even teeth that fall out completely!

One lost tooth can begin a chain reaction, causing neighboring teeth to fall out as well! Your teeth rely on bone, gums, and each other for support!

How Is Gum Disease Linked To Cancer?

The first thing that doctors noticed was a striking number of cancer patients who also had a history of gum disease. This prompted more studies into a possible connection and what they found surprised them! There was a definite connection between the two, and their studies even showed that as little as a millimeter of bone loss quadrupled the chances the patient would develop cancer!

Research into the link has continued but doctors have had a hard time nailing down one absolute cause. The most plausible explanation right now is that the constant inflammation of the gums raises cancer risks. Inflammation has long been understood to be linked to cancer and it’s no different in your mouth! Bacterial inflammation is especially bad – the antibodies and chemicals your body releases to fight the inflammation-causing bacteria have been directly linked to the spread of cancerous cells!

Preventing Gum Disease

Thankfully for you and other people worried about gum disease it’s really easy to prevent! Gum disease is a direct result of plaque bacteria and with good oral health habits you can put yourself far from the dangers of tooth loss, inflammation, and cancer!

You should always be sure to brush twice a day for at least two minutes. It’s essential that you don’t skip time on this crucial step! Plaque bacteria loves to hide where it’s hard to reach and only a thorough brushing can really get it out! You also need to floss in the evenings as well! Flossing gets plaque out of those impossible-to-brush spots!

Last, and most importantly, regular professional dental care is fundamental to a healthy mouth! An exam and cleaning allow us to track your health over time, see any problems before they get serious, and screen you for oral cancer as well!

If you’ve been concerned about possible gum disease in your mouth, or if you just want to see us for a regular cleaning, don’t wait! Call our Kennewick dentist office today at 509-591-0515! If you would rather schedule an appointment online you can do that right here! We look forward to seeing you soon!

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