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David M. Rizk, DDS

Gum Disease & Gastrointestinal Cancers

added on: March 7, 2023

According to the CDC, nearly 50% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease, and your dentist in El Paso wants you to know that this is nothing to take lightly. Gum disease is a serious condition that has been connected to an increased risk of developing both oral and overall health problems such as tooth loss, heart disease, and stroke. But there’s even more. A new study conducted by the American Academy for Cancer Research shows a potential link between gum disease and gastrointestinal cancers, including colon cancer.

The Link Between Gum Disease and GI Cancer 

The survey from the American Academy for Cancer Research followed over 40,000 men and women for more than a decade, monitoring their health, diets, and results of their colonoscopies. Researchers focused on two types of intestinal lesions that are often precursors to developing colon cancer –  serrated polyps and conventional adenomas – as well as patients’ oral health. While it may seem odd to study gut health in relation to oral health, the results were interesting. 

  • Patients studied were 17% more likely to have a serrated polyp if there was also a history of gum disease.
  • Researchers saw an 11% increased risk of having a conventional adenoma if a history of gum disease was also present.
  • Participants who lost more than four teeth, a common side effect of gum disease, had a 20% increased risk of having a serrated polyp.

 While these survey results certainly seem to point to a correlation between gum disease and colon cancer, researchers say that more studies are needed.

How Can You Tell If You Have Gum Disease?

Gum disease can be treated and cured if it’s detected in its early stages. This is why it’s so important to see your dentist in El Paso twice a year for regular checkups. Early detection is key to treating gum disease effectively before it has a chance to cause bigger oral health or overall health problems. Some tell-tale signs of gum disease may include: 

  • Bad breath or bad taste that doesn’t go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Gum recession

 If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist in El Paso as soon as possible to get treatment

 Preventing Gum Disease 

There are several ways to protect yourself from developing gum disease, including:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Flossing daily
  • Quitting smoking 
  • Seeing your dentist in El Paso at least every six months

 However, it’s important to know that genetics, age, and certain medications can also impact the risk of developing gum disease. Make sure to mention all health conditions and medications to your dentist at every appointment. 

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