Did you know that the poor gum health can lead to stomach cancer? Gum infections arise when dental plaque builds up from a lack of dental hygiene practices such as daily brushing and flossing. The bacteria in this dental plaque can cause infections that result in gingivitis, a milder form of periodontal disease, or more permanent damage to the gums and bone. Recent research has found that the damage does not stop there.
In a small study done by researchers at the New York University College of Dentistry, it was discovered that people who had precancerous lesions in their digestive tract were also more likely to exhibit signs of periodontal disease, such as bleeding gums during dental examinations. Additionally, several types of bacteria contributing to gum disease were found in their mouth in high levels. Such bacteria were capable of producing molecules that could cause inflammation and damage internal tissue and contributing to the development of cancer in the long run. It is also possible that these bacteria might travel from the mouth to the gastrointestinal tract. There, they cause further complications such as gastric ulcers.
Gastric cancer has often been tied with factors like smoking or consuming excessive salt and preservatives. With this study, there also now appears to be a link between gum health and gastric cancer. While precancerous stomach lesions do not always develop into cancer, the findings have shed new light on possible ways in which stomach cancer might develop.
Oral Hygiene Is Key
Although daily brushing is certainly an important step in preventing plaque buildup and the problems that stem from it, it is not enough on its own. That is because the periodontal pockets where such harmful bacteria thrive are not easily accessible with a regular toothbrush. Periodontal pockets are the spaces left between the tooth and gums when gum tissue begins to separate from the teeth. Such pockets are breeding grounds for bacteria, and as a result, can give rise to inflammation and the growth of cancer-causing bacteria.
Hence, brushing must be done in combination with other dental health practices like flossing and regularly seeing a dentist to assess your oral health and get your teeth professionally cleaned.
Other Ways to Protect Gums
Additionally, you can improve your gum health by making healthy changes to your diet, such as cutting down on starchy and sugary foods that increase plaque buildup. Foods rich in vitamins A and C, in particular, help to strengthen and protect your gums. Avoiding cigarettes and tobacco is also a crucial step to maintaining gum health. Do note that certain medications can also be responsible for aggravating gum health, such as oral contraceptives, antidepressants and heart medications.
Since the onset of gum disease is slow and not easily noticeable, it may become serious before you know it. Exercising preventative care by scheduling regular appointments with your dentist is the best way to beat gum disease and protect your gastrointestinal health. Call Dr. Alex Rubinov at (718) 253-0800 today to find out more about dental checkups and make an appointment.