Did you know there have been studies showing that older women with gum infections are more prone to developing common forms of cancer? Women with optimal oral health are less likely to get various forms of cancer. Your dentist in Austin wanted to take a moment to shed some important light on how critical it is to maintain good oral health, especially in your gums.
What is Periodontal Disease?
When conducting their studies, researchers focused on what we call periodontal or gum disease. There are two forms of the disease:
- Gingivitis – This is the mildest form of gum disease, and it causes the tissue around your teeth to become red, swollen, and bleed more easily. Gingivitis can be mildly uncomfortable, but it’s generally reversible with help from your dentist in Austin and good at-home dental care.
- Periodontitis – When you don’t treat gingivitis properly, it can worsen into a condition called periodontitis. Over time, plaque can spread and grow beneath your gum line and allow bacteria to irritate your gums. This can stimulate a chronic inflammatory response elsewhere in your body that can cause your body to break down its own bone and tissue that help support your teeth.
It’s essential to treat your gums with care, ensuring they stay healthy enough to support your teeth for a lifetime of comfortable oral health.
What Did the Study Find?
Researchers found that compared to women with no issues with their oral health, women who had trouble with their gums and teeth were 14 percent more likely to develop cancer. The most significant risk was developing cancer in your esophagus, which is three times higher in women with periodontal disease. The study also found that, “Women with periodontal disease were also 31 percent more likely to be diagnosed with lung tumors, 73 percent more likely to get gallbladder cancers, 13 percent more likely to have breast tumors, and 23 percent more likely to have melanoma.” If left untreated, periodontal disease can also lead to tooth loss, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
The Connection Isn’t All Clear
There are still questions about the exact causes of the connection between periodontal disease and cancer; it’s not 100 percent clear. Doctors think it’s due to the bacteria present in your mouth that travel to other parts of your body. The bacteria destroys your gum tissue, forming pockets where infection thrives. This is what ends up in your bloodstream. It can get stuck in other sites around your body, causing inflammation that could lead to cancer.
As you can see, going to your dentist in Austin for regular checkups and cleanings is important, especially if you’re a woman who is aging gracefully. Call us today to schedule an appointment or hygiene cleaning. We can help answer any questions you might have about your gum health and taking care of your smile. Take the time to care for yourself and your oral health, and enjoy all of the benefits that come with it.