Inflammation in your mouth may raise your risk of developing cancer.
Medical experts are just starting to realize that chronic inflammation is tied to an increased risk of cancer. That is true of oral inflammation too.
According to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, women who suffer from gum disease are as much as 14% more likely to develop cancer than if they have healthy gums and teeth. The link is strongest for esophageal cancer, but there is an association between several types of cancer and oral inflammation. Additional risks identified as linking gum disease or inflammation are breast, skin, and gallbladder cancers.
That means if you are avoiding the dentist because you are concerned about pain or going through a procedure, you might want to consider sedation dentistry to make things go more smoothly instead of possibly jeopardizing your health and lifespan by staying away from the dentist.
Increased Health Risks
According to the study mentioned above, over 66,000 postmenopausal women from ages 54-86 were examined. After following them for eight years, the study compared their periodontal disease and tooth loss with their risk and cancer rate.
When gum disease is in the early stages, it produces a bacteria that forms on the teeth’ exterior, called gingivitis. Gingivitis makes the gums chronically swollen and causes plaque to form. If the plaque is not cleaned away, it can lead to periodontal disease. If left unchecked, the chronic inflammation associated with periodontal disease can form pockets of bacteria and food, further exacerbating inflammation. The body’s immune system reacts by causing chronic inflammation, leading to tooth damage and tooth loss.
When the 66,000 women were followed, researchers found that of those who were evaluated, 7,100 participants developed cancer. Those who had a history of periodontal disease, on average, were over three times more likely to be diagnosed with esophageal cancer and twice as likely to develop gallbladder disease than those women who did not have periodontal disease leading to chronic inflammation.
Although there are additional factors – like some women who developed periodontal disease did so because they also either drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes – when you take those contributions away, the women in this study showed a 12% increase in the risk of developing cancer after being diagnosed with periodontal disease.
Develop Good Oral Habits
Some studies indicate that oral health is related to other chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other major health conditions. It isn’t clear whether the association is clear causation, if the conditions are enhanced when you don’t take care of your oral health, or if it is just inflammation of the mouth alone that determines your risk.
Oral health is a good indicator of your overall health, not just an addition to it. If you want to help your risk for chronic disease and illness, then a good place to start is to develop good oral habits and see your dentist regularly to ensure that you are on the right course for a healthy future. If the fear of pain is holding you back, discuss dental sedation options with your dentist to calm your anxiety and ensure that your oral health doesn’t suffer.
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Is a dental phobia keeping you away from the dentist? If you have not been to the dentist because you suffer from moderate to a severe dental phobia, we are here to help you! The Dental Anesthesia Center is a state-of-the-art dental facility for patients who require general anesthesia, deep sedation, or oral sedation for their dental care. An individual’s sedation method is determined by the patient’s medical history and current physical and mental health.
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