We know our mouths are important for many reasons. It’s not just about having healthy teeth; it’s also about keeping your gums in good shape! Gum disease has been linked to several common health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and cancer—can gum disease cause cancer?
What does the research say about the connection between gum disease and cancer?
Recent research has shown some connection between gum disease and cancer.
- In August 2017, a study of almost 66,000 women found those with a history of gum disease also had an increased incidence of cancer of the esophagus, lung cancer, gall bladder cancer, melanoma, and breast cancer.
- In late 2017, research out of Finland suggested that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease may also cause certain cancers, specifically pancreatic cancer.
- Earlier this year, more research showed links to cancer in individuals with a history of gum disease, this time linking to lung and colorectal cancers.
More research is needed to identify a definitive link, however.
What Other Health Issues Does Gum Disease Cause?
People who suffer from gum disease typically experience symptoms like:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums that are easily irritated or inflamed
- Swollen, tender, and red gums around the teeth.
There may also be bleeding while brushing your teeth, loose teeth, and receding gums (gum recession). The above are signs that it might be time to see your dentist.
If you’re not sure if it is gum disease, call your dentist for an evaluation and treatment options.
Gum disease isn’t the only thing that can cause these problems, though; diabetes or medications like aspirin might also lead to similar symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these issues, you should talk to your dentist and doctor.
What Can I Do to Protect My Teeth?
It’s important to brush twice a day, floss daily, and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. If you live in an area with fluoridated water, be sure to swish it around in your mouth (don’t swallow) for about two minutes after brushing your teeth.
If you’re looking for a more holistic approach, there are some things you can do to protect your oral health, like using baking soda and water as toothpaste or oil pulling with coconut oil.
Whatever route you decide to take, the most important thing is to be diligent in your oral care routine!
Gum disease is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. While more research is needed to identify a definitive link between gum disease and cancer, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect your oral health. Brush twice a day, floss daily, visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups and consider using a more holistic approach to oral care.
Stay healthy, everyone!