Need another reason to brush and floss? Gum disease may increase cancer risk.

14ac4b296ad659ecb1c0_joanne.JPG
14ac4b296ad659ecb1c0_joanne.JPG

A study published in the journal Cancer Research this past week looked at the oral health of over 120,000 people in the U.S. for 10 years and found a 21% increase in the risk of esophageal cancer when people had gum disease caused by certain kinds of bacteria. 

 

National Library of Medicine – HealthDay summary: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_170118.html

Journal article abstract: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/77/23/6777

Sign Up for E-News

Use this news

Gum disease does more than affect the mouth. It’s been linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes and from the results of the study above, it appears that esophageal cancer can be added to the list.

Although cancer of the esophagus is not a common cancer, it is a deadly one. Just as with any cancer, chances of survival are greater if it’s found early.  Overall, the five year survival rate for esophageal cancer is 18%.  The chances of survival are better, 41%, if it’s found and treated early, and worse -  5%, if it’s found after it has spread. (American Cancer Society, 2017)  The trouble is, people don’t know they have it until the tumor has grown large enough to causes symptoms – trouble swallowing, weight loss, lack of appetite, chest pain or a burning sensation, among the most common (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 2017)

Although periodontal disease (gum disease) was found to be a risk factor for esophageal cancer in the study above, further studies need to be done to confirm the finding. However, preventing gum disease is something we should all do, not only to possibly reduce our chances of esophageal cancer, but for overall good health.

So, what exactly is gum disease? Gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by an accumulation of bacteria in plaque, the sticky film that covers the teeth and gums. When plaque is not regularly removed, that is -  when we don’t brush and floss, it hardens. Hardened plaque is called tartar. When not removed, the bacteria in the plaque and tartar cause gingivitis or an inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis causes the gum swelling, redness and bleeding. This initial type of gum disease can easily be treated with a professional cleaning and good oral care at home.

If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress to a more serious type of gum disease – periodontitis. When this happened, the gums pull away from the teeth leaving spaces or pockets around them that become infected. The infection spreads below the gum line which brings the toxins released by the bacteria into contact with bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place. If this isn’t treated, the bones, gums and other structures that support the teeth, are destroyed and the teeth become loose, and sometimes have to be removed. (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2013)

Treatment depends on the extent of infection but includes medication, surgery to remove tartar and reduce the size of the pockets around the teeth, and in cases where there is bone loss, a bone and/or tissue graft.

While gum disease can be treated, it makes more sense to prevent it in the first place. To this end, The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the American Dental Association (http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth)  offer this advice:

  1. Brush twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush.
  2. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months
  3. Regularly remove plaque from between teeth (use dental floss, interdental brushes,  “water-pick” or an oral irrigating flosser.)
  4. Have regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings
  5. Don’t smoke

For more information

American Cancer Society
Cancer Facts and Figures
https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/all-cancer-facts-figures/cancer-facts-figures-2017.html

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Esophageal Cancer
https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/types/esophageal/symptoms-esophageal

American Dental Association
Brushing your teeth
http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth


American Academy of Periodontology
Types of gum disease
https://www.perio.org/consumer/types-gum-disease.html


National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial  Research
Periodontal gum disease
https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/PeriodontalGumDisease.htm

 

 

Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES is the principal of Associates for Health Education and Behavior, LLC, in Sparta, a practice focused on improving health through education. Her office offers individual and group health education, and individual health behavior change guidance.  For more information please see www.associatesforhealth.com  To contact Dr. Hayden, email her atjoanna@associatesforhealth.com

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Millburn Recreation Accepting Memberships for Pool, Tennis and Golf

February 19, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Township Recreation Department announced that it is accepting memberships for the township pool, tennis and golf facilities. The memberships are available to all Millburn Township residents and the applications are available online.

The membership application can be accessed at http://www.twp.millburn.nj.us/DocumentCenter/View/3258 or go ...

Millburn Police Department Investigating Pair of Residential Burglaries

April 3, 2018

On March 28, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Goldfarb responded to the Union Police Department on a warrant arrest. Robert Kopik, age 41 of Springfield, was placed under arrest on an outstanding criminal warrant and remanded to the Essex County Correctional Facility.

On March 28, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Hunt responded to a Quaker Road residence on a residential burglary. The resident reports ...

Letter to the Editor: New Jersey’s Out-of-Network Bill is a Huge Blow to the Middle-Class

April 8, 2018

As Trenton currently looks to balance the budget, once again it’s our state’s hardest working citizens who will be left holding the bag. This time, though, it will be the hardworking office and ancillary staff from our small business private medical practices.  A bill called “The Out-of-Network Consumer Protection Bill” A-2039/S-485 looks poised to make ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_b86bc770b3d9f1a03e9e_rummage_sale_logo

Sat, April 21, 9:00 AM

Community Church, Short Hills

Community Church to Hold Spring Rummage Sale for ...

Carousel_image_d011da1118997e9079ba_647027fe33acceeb0ba5_1

Sat, April 21, 11:00 AM

PetSmart, Millburn

Dog Adoption

Carousel_image_4930b780b62b906e0c8e_e33016f1b524cbf30d1f_mini_magick20180329-98141-1flyvbq

Sat, April 21, 12:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Millburn Library Annual Book Sale

Middle School Presents Shrek the Musical, April 27-29

April 21, 2018

Middle School presents Shrek the Musical, April 27-29

The Millburn Middle School Spring Musical, Shrek the Musical, will be held on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at 7 p.m.  A Sunday matinee will be presented at 1 p.m. on April 29th.

Shrek the Musical opened on Broadway in December 2008. It is based on the DreamWorks Animation’s film Shrek and William Steig’s ...

Millburn Road Closures for April 20

MILLBURN, NJ - Parsonage Hill Road closed between Long Hill Drive and White Oak Ridge Road until approx 4:00pm Officers working

Troy Drive closed to all traffic between Lawrence Drive and Troy Lane until approx 4:00pm Officers working

Old Short Hills Road has a changed traffic pattern between Silver Spring Road and Dorison Drive no closures expect possible delays until approx 4:00pm ...

Community Church to Hold Spring Rummage Sale for Charity

Community Congregational Church in Short Hills will hold its semiannual Rummage Sale on Saturday, April 21 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. All proceeds of the sale benefit Community Church’s educational and outreach programs, including the Oasis program that provides bags of groceries and baby supplies to families in Irvington every month.

“The Rummage Sale for Charity at Community Church ...