Gum disease may seem like a condition that only affects oral health and should only be a concern for your dentist in Walnut Creek. But the truth is, gum disease can impact several other areas of the body. In fact, the whole-body complications associated with gum disease, including heart disease, have been known for several years. However, a recent study from 2020 conducted by the American Academy for Cancer Research found a potential positive correlation between gum disease and an increased risk of developing colon cancer. 

The Link Between Gum Disease & Colon Cancer

The study by the American Academy for Cancer Research examined a potential link between having gum disease and developing colon cancer and looked into factors such as health, lifestyle, and pathology reports from colonoscopies. The colonoscopy pathology results were particularly interesting as they showed that those participants who had the two types of intestinal lesions that can cause colon cancer, serrated polyps, and conventional adenomas, also were more likely to have a history of gum disease.  

Moreso, patients with a history of gum disease were:

  • 17% more likely to have a serrated polyp
  • 11% at increased risk of having a conventional adenoma

But that’s not all. Gum disease can cause tooth loss, which on the surface doesn’t seem to pertain to colon concerns. However, patients studied who had lost four or more teeth also had a 20% increased risk of having a serrated polyp. 

It’s worth noting that while this research suggests a positive correlation between gum disease and colon cancer, scientists say that additional research is needed in order to properly and fully understand if and how oral health can affect gut health. 

Signs of Gum Disease

Knowing the signs of gum disease can make the difference between saving your teeth and protecting oral health and having an incurable condition. After all, gum disease can be reversed if diagnosed and treated early. But if gum disease goes untreated, it will reach a point where it can no longer be cured. At this advanced stage, gum disease is likely to cause tooth loss and other problems throughout the body, such as heart disease and potentially colon cancer. This is one reason why it’s so important to see your dentist in Walnut Creek at least every six months and why we encourage all patients to keep an eye out for any warning signs of gum disease such as: 

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Swollen, red gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Gum recession

If you do notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your Walnut Creek dentist sooner rather than later.  

Decrease The Risk of Gum Disease

As we now know, gum disease can affect more than just your oral health, so it’s important to do everything you can to reduce the risk of developing gum disease in the first place. Some of the best ways to protect yourself against gum disease are to: 

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco products
  • See your dentist in Walnut Creek at least every six months

If you suspect that you may have gum disease, we recommend scheduling a dental appointment as soon as you can. After all, early treatment is key to protecting your teeth and your body. 

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