March is Oral Health Month, an important time to raise awareness about all things dental health and wellness. At Bowen Legacy Dental, we are passionate about informing patients of the mouth-body connection. After all, dentistry extends far beyond your pearly whites! One example is the link between cancer and the mouth. Discover more about this subject and why visiting experts—like our Bowen Legacy Dental team—is so important for a healthy body.
Connections found between gum disease and cancer
A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found a “positive association between periodontitis [gum disease] and cancer risk.” The research found that severe gum disease may raise the risk of developing cancer, especially lung and colorectal cancers. Overall, the risk among periodontitis patients was reported to be 24% higher than those with either mild gum disease or healthy mouths. One more reason why keeping a thorough oral hygiene regimen is critical to your long-term wellness!
Cancer and the mouth
Just like gum disease can impact your chances of developing cancer, having cancer can also heighten your chances of various mouth-related complications. According to the American Dental Association, around a third of cancer patients report difficulties with their oral health, including mouth sores, infections, gum sensitivity, and jaw pain. An expert like Dr. Gehlert or Dr. Bowen is a critical member of any cancer healthcare team. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can worsen cancer’s impact on the mouth, and experts sometimes recommend precautionary measures to prevent long-term damage to the teeth.
In addition, for many with oral and oropharyngeal cancers, the dentist is often the first person to recognize the problem. During visits, our team checks for signs of these serious cancers, including white or reddish patches, growths, or sores that won’t heal. If you skip regular exams, cancer can progress without presenting significant symptoms. However, with our experts on your side, you have the best chance of early detection, treatment, and positive outcomes.
Actions to be taken
If you want to prevent gum disease or cancer, we recommend a few starting points.
One of the most significant factors that contributes to both gum disease and cancer is smoking or vaping. Quitting smoking drastically lowers your chances of developing periodontitis, oral cancer, and lung cancer. Alcohol consumption can also lead to cancer or gum disease. Outside of these lifestyle habits, we recommend brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily, consuming a nutrient-rich diet full of vitamins and minerals, and visiting your general physician and our team regularly.
When it comes to cancer, proactive and preventative care can make all the difference. For more information or to book your next appointment, call Bowen Legacy Dental at 614-459-2300.