New research is telling us that there is a direct link between gum disease and the development of certain types of cancers. If you have been diagnosed with periodontitis, more popularly known as gum disease, you may know that your mouth has been experiencing inflammation of the tissue that surrounds your teeth or gums. Dentists may have told you already that, due to your stage of gum disease, your gums are at risk of destruction and the bone that holds your teeth in place is under attack. These are very scary things to hear from your dentist, but what’s even scarier is that you may have a higher risk of cancer.
Having gingivitis doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up with cancer in the years to come. However, a 2015 study from the Lancet Oncology found that men with gum disease carry a 14% higher risk for cancer than men who do not have the signs and symptoms of the disease. In general, it was found that they have a higher risk for lung or pancreatic cancer. Again in 2017, a Finnish hospital studied gum disease and how it is linked to Treponema denticola, which is the bacteria that is responsible for the development of some cancers. It also laid claim to the fact that this bacteria can lead to some gastrointestinal cancers, including pancreatic.
Another common issue is that some people believe that their gum disease is actually oral cancer. This can happen when gum disease causes strange symptoms in the mouth such as irritation, bleeding when you brush, or noticing white spots. Gum disease is slightly more common than oral cancer, with 47% of all adults having it in some degree. Today we will look at the signs of both gum disease and oral cancer to give you peace at mind until you speak to your dentist for a better look.
Oral Cancer: Gum cancer is very commonly confused with gum disease due to the symptoms. However, you can almost be sure that you have gum cancer if you find patches or irregular growths on your gums, which could be red and white, just white, or just red. Some of these may be benign, when others are malignant and should be checked out as soon as possible. Oral cancer can affect really any area of your mouth, from your lips to the gums, to the inner cheek and tongue. Your dentist can determine if you should have a biopsy of the area.
Gum Disease: Gingivitis is a bit different. In early stages, gum disease is usually not painful. When someone has gum disease, they are more likely to have dusky red gums than light pink due to the inflammation. Gingivitis will also make your gums bleed when you are brushing or flossing. If your teeth and gums are tender, then you are more likely to have gum disease, which your dentist can confirm.
Do you have questions about your teeth but you aren’t sure where to start? Your dentist will be able to take a closer look and help you determine what is happening inside your mouth and how to move forward. We care about your smile at McBride Dental and want you to see results after your first visit. Call us today for an appointment at 760-471-1003.