Mountains of research over the years have shown a strong link between gum disease and whole-body health, such as an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. But recent studies conducted by the American Academy for Cancer Research have now shown another scary connection – gum disease may increase the likelihood of developing colon cancer. During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, your dentist in Ann Arbor wants to raise awareness about how protecting your oral health can also help protect your overall health.
Research Links Gum Disease to Colon Cancer
This study monitored the health of over 40,000 American men and women over the course of several decades. Researchers observed the health, diet, and colonoscopy results of the participants in order to determine if there was a potential link between gum disease and colon cancer.
During the study, scientists focused on two particular types of intestinal lesions that often precede colon cancer — serrated polyps and conventional adenomas — as well as participants’ history of gum disease. They found that those patients who had a history of gum disease also had:
- 17% increased risk of having a serrated polyp
- 11% increased risk of having a conventional adenoma
- 20% increased risk of having a serrated polyp if the participant had lost four or more teeth
While the results did support the theory that gum disease could potentially lead to colon cancer, researchers say additional studies are needed to further back up these findings.
Signs of Gum Disease
One of the trickier parts of gum disease is catching it early. After all, early diagnosis and treatment can make all the difference between reversing gum disease and it reaching the point where it can no longer be cured, increasing the chance for it to affect the rest of the body. Keep an eye out for some of the common signs of gum disease such as:
- Chronic bad breath
- Red, swollen gums
- Gums that bleed
- Loose teeth
- Gum recession
- Pain when chewing
It’s important to call your dentist in Ann Arbor and schedule an appointment if you recognize any of these signs of gum disease.
Lower the Risk of Gum Disease
Certain factors that can contribute to the development of gum disease are unavoidable, such as age and genetics. But other lifestyle habits that we can control can also increase the risk. Follow these tips from your dentist in Ann Arbor to reduce the likelihood of developing gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Stop using tobacco products
- Keep seeing your dentist for bi-annual checkups and cleanings
Even though gum disease may seem minor, it’s not something to take lightly. Continue to monitor any changes in your mouth and see your dentist regularly in order to catch problems early, before they have a chance to become bigger concerns and cause health problems.
We have dental offices in Ann Arbor, Canton, Farmington Hills, and Livonia. Call the one closest to you to schedule an appointment.