An updated study conducted by the American Academy for Cancer Research of nearly 43,000 people over several years has shown a potential positive correlation between gum disease and an increased risk of colon cancer. While the whole-body complications associated with gum disease, such as heart disease, aren’t new, the link to colon cancer is a relatively recent topic of interest to researchers and your dentist in Hagerstown.
The Link Between Gum Disease & Colon Cancer
The study that examined the potential link between gum disease and colon cancer took several things into consideration – health, lifestyle, and pathology reports from routine colonoscopies. Those pathology results showed something interesting about those participants who had serrated polyps and conventional adenomas, the two types of intestinal lesions that can cause colon cancer, and who also had a history of gum disease.
Patients with a history of gum disease had:
- A 17% increased risk of having a serrated polyp
- An 11% increased risk of having a conventional adenoma
But that’s not all. Patients who had lost four or more teeth, which is a very common side effect of gum disease, had a 20% increased risk of having a serrated polyp.
While this research does suggest a correlation between gum disease and colon cancer, the scientists did state that more research is needed to fully understand how oral health can affect gut health.
Signs of Gum Disease
If caught early, gum disease can be reversed and the risk of other oral health and overall health complications decreases. However, untreated gum disease will eventually reach a point where it can no longer be cured. This greatly increases the likelihood that gum disease will lead to tooth loss and cause other problems throughout the body. This is why your dentist in Hagerstown encourages all patients to know the early warning signs of gum disease so you can seek treatment sooner rather than later.
Some of the most common signs of gum disease include:
- Chronic bad breath
- Swollen, red gums
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Gum recession
4 Ways to Protect Against Gum Disease
Gum disease can be caused by any number of things, but there are some habits that can substantially increase someone’s chances of getting it. The best ways to protect yourself against gum disease are to:
Brush your teeth twice a day
Quit smoking or using tobacco products
See your dentist in Hagerstown at least every six months
If you suspect that you may have gum disease, we recommend scheduling a dental appointment as soon as you can. After all, early treatment is key to protecting your teeth and your body.