Gum Disease Linked to Colon Cancer: Know Your Risk

Gum Disease Linked to Colon Cancer: Know Your Risk

Posted by Dr. Thomas Flavin Mar 30,2022

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Periodontal disease is an infection in the gum tissue that is caused by plaque and bacteria buildup in the mouth. Regular brushing, flossing, and checkups with your dentist can help to prevent the spread of bacteria and the progression of the disease. Research has linked periodontal disease to a variety of serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even cancer of the colon. Treating your gum disease is important for your overall health, too!

In the early stages of periodontal infection, a patient may experience red or swollen gums, bleeding when brushing their teeth, or even bad breath. As the disease progresses, symptoms worsen to include gum recession, loose teeth, pain in the jaw joints, and may even cause tooth loss. It’s important to treat gum disease in its early stages to prevent the more serious complications from progressing. Your dentist can prescribe effective treatments to rid your mouth of harmful oral bacteria and restore your health.

Prevention of Gum Disease

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss regularly and rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash after eating. Use an antibacterial rinse after brushing to help kill any lingering bacteria in your mouth. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your salivary glands stimulated and prevent dry mouth, which can increase your chances of developing tooth decay and infection. Visit the dentist every six months for a checkup and professional cleaning to remove any buildup of plaque and tartar. Our dentists may recommend more frequent appointments depending on the health of your gums. By following these simple tips at home and maintaining regular dental care, you can help to reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease and maintain a happy,

What are the complications of gum disease?

Gum disease has been associated with a number of serious health problems, including heart disease and various forms of cancer. Research has linked periodontal disease to pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and even throat cancer. In 2016, scientists at the University of Southern California found that men with a history of gum disease were twice as likely to develop aggressive forms of prostate cancer. And in 2014, researchers at the University of Louisville reported that patients with periodontitis also had a significantly higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Although researchers are unsure exactly how and why these illnesses are correlated with gum disease, they do believe that inflammation caused by bacteria in the mouth may play a role. Studies have found evidence that inflammation and bacteria in the mouth may be linked to the growth of blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors in the body. Studies also speculate that the bacteria that cause gum disease may also damage the DNA of a cell that turns cancerous. However, it’s unclear at this time whether these findings are simply correlated or causative.

How does gum disease cause colon cancer?

As we know, the mouth is the gateway to the body. Bacteria and plaque can hide in the deep crevices of teeth, which is not easily reached by brushing or flossing alone. Over time, this bacteria can lead to infection and possibly cancer. When it comes to cancer and oral health, there are two main areas of concern. The first is oral cancer, and the other is colorectal cancer.

Mouth cancer is related to tobacco use and heavy alcohol use, but oral HPV has also been linked to it—which makes sense since we’re learning that HPV can be transmitted sexually as well. Oral health also plays a role in the development of rectal cancer and precancerous polyps. This is because the same bacterium that causes tooth decay is also linked with more serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

When patients have gum disease, they’re more likely to have precancerous lesions in their colons. These small growths are more easily treated when caught early, making regular visits to the dentist even more important. While you’re there for a cleaning and checkup, the doctors can monitor your oral health for signs of potential disease elsewhere in the body.

If your loved one has a family history of bowel issues, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about the link between gum disease and cancer. That way, they can help you take the necessary steps to reduce your risk.

Regardless of the possible causes, this much is clear: good oral hygiene is key to protecting your overall health. Brushing and flossing daily is essential for removing plaque buildup and preventing infections that can lead to gum disease and the complications associated with it.

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