According to a recent article published in Science Daily, periodontal disease may increase your risk of cancer. But what types of cancer do scientists connect to this oral health problem? Also, how can you avoid putting yourself at greater risk for either periodontitis or cancer?
Research Shows a Link between Periodontitis and Some Cancers
According to research conducted in the United States and referred to in the Science Daily article, periodontal disease raises your risk for esophageal and stomach cancers. People with this oral health problem who have recently lost teeth are at greatest risk. The study was conducted by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Participating scientists used several decades of dental data on a group of patients to develop their findings.
The researchers examined the dental history and medical records of almost 150,000 men and women. They used the patients’ records from two other studies of 1988 through 2016. At the same time, the scientists evaluated the patients’ lifestyle, diet, oral health habits and other personal factors. Besides using the patients’ records, they also had the individuals complete health questionnaires.
Over the studied 28 year time period, 199 of the patients developed esophageal cancer. Two hundred thirty-eight people reported having gastric cancer, also called stomach cancer. This led the scientists to determine that periodontal disease created a 43 percent higher risk for esophageal cancer. It also increased the risk of stomach cancer by 52 percent. People who lost two or more teeth with their periodontitis had a slightly higher cancer risk than those who had oral health disease but no tooth loss.
Why does periodontal disease increase the risk of cancer?
The scientists believe that the higher risk for these cancers comes from presence of specific oral bacteria with periodontal disease. They also factor poor oral hygiene that often leads to gum disease being a common element in risk for these cancers.
This study is only the start of considering a connection between periodontitis and cancers. But it paints a clear picture that dentists have been showing patients for years. That is, your oral health closely connects to your overall physical health.
How can I reduce my risk for periodontal disease and these cancers?
The best way to reduce your risk for periodontal disease and these cancers at the same time is to take great care of your teeth and gums. You need to practice good daily oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing your teeth. You also must visit your dentist twice yearly for routine cleanings and dental exams. When you have signs of early gum disease, do what your dentist recommends to stop the condition from growing worse.
Early signs of periodontal disease include:
- Bad breath
- Blood on your toothbrush
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Receding gums or longer looking teeth
If you notice any of these symptoms of periodontal disease, schedule a visit with your dentist at Carolina Dental Arts in Raleigh or Goldsboro, North Carolina. It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible. In the early stages of periodontitis, treatment can reverse the condition and take you back to good oral health. Schedule your appointment by contacting us today.