The Dangers of Oral Cancer and Gum Disease
Discussions about oral health often center around preventing cavities and keeping your breath nice and fresh. While such things are important, what many people do not realize is that your mouth’s health has a strong connection with what goes on in the rest of your body. In fact, oral cancer and gum disease are two serious conditions that could seriously downgrade your quality of life and perhaps even take your life altogether. Your dentist in St. Peter is here to talk more about these frightening oral health problems.
Periodontal disease, often referred to as gum disease, is inflammation in the gums. In its early stages, it presents few to no symptoms. As it progresses, however, it can lead to persistent bad breath, loose teeth, extreme pain, receding gums, and more. The effects even go beyond the mouth. Gum disease allows dangerous bacteria to sneak into your body, a problem that may lead to:
- Preterm birth and low birth weights
- Cardiovascular disease
- Worsening diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
Recent research has also revealed gum disease could also greatly increase your risk of cancer. A study evaluated over 7,000 people and found that those with gum disease were 24 percent more likely to develop any form of cancer.
Fortunately, preventing and stopping gum disease isn’t difficult for most people. By sticking to an excellent oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist regularly, you may be able to keep your smile — and the rest of your body — in top shape.
Oral cancer can develop in anyone, regardless of whether they have gum disease. Smokers, heavy drinkers, and those who have contracted the HPV virus tend to be at a greater risk than others, but even someone without any risk factors whatsoever can become a victim of this condition. This devastating illness claims roughly 10,000 lives each year, which is about one-fifth of the number of people who are diagnosed with it on an annual basis.
Experts recommend that adults get screened for oral cancer at least once a year, and fortunately, getting screened is as easy as visiting your dentist for a routine exam. Dental professionals are trained to identify any suspicious areas that might indicate cancer. They’ll perform a tactile and visual examination and alert you to any potential signs of trouble. If they recommend that you visit a physician to get a biopsy, you should do so as soon as possible. After all, the earlier you catch cancer, the greater your chances are of conquering it.
Gum disease and oral cancer are both dangerous diseases, and your family dentist in St. Peter wants to help you avoid losing your quality of life (or even your life itself) to either one. If it has been a while since your last dental checkup, please schedule an appointment soon.
Dr. Jenny Miller leads the team at Valley View dental, and she is passionate about protecting her patients’ health. Whether you need an oral cancer screening or tips on how to prevent gum disease, or you just want to ask some questions about how to care for your smile, please contact us at 507-934-3332.