As a dentist in West Kelowna and health practitioner, it is my job to educate my patients about risks to their health.
That is why I wanted to alert my patients to a new health concern: Gum disease is linked to cancer!
What a scary headline, but it’s one that’s made the rounds since last August.
Today, I want to show you some of the details of a recent scientific study and explain how you can prevent gum disease and protect your health.
Gum Disease Linked to Cancer in Postmenopausal Women – What You Need to Know
Gum disease linked to cancer? Really? Sadly, yes.
Last summer, the New York Times reported on a study that explained the link.
Researchers followed over 65,000 subjects over an eight year period. They found that those who had a history of gum disease had an increased risk of:
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Esophagus cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Melanoma skin cancer.
Women who were in their postmenopausal years were at a higher risk, with cancer rates increasing even in those who had never smoked.
This is alarming. It truly goes to show how important it is to practice prevention. It also shows the importance of getting an early diagnosis and quickly treating gum disease or periodontal disease, as it is also known as.
Take Preventative Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Periodontal Disease
When it comes to preventing gum disease, you’re in the driver’s seat.
Dental home care is vital in the prevention of dental disease, including gum disease and dental decay.
What’s the best way to take care of your teeth?
- First, start with daily flossing. This will remove plaque from in between the teeth and under the gums – areas that a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Brush at least twice every day. It would be best if you brush after eating, including all meals and snacks. I know this isn’t always practical, though. So, brush your teeth in the morning and at night, and then rinse after eating.
- Invest in a high-quality electric toothbrush like the Philips Sonicare Toothbrush that we provide at no cost to our new adult patients. These typically remove more plaque than you’re able to manually, plus they’re gentler to your gums than manual toothbrushes.
- Don’t miss a cleaning! Those who have a history of gum disease or are have risk factors need to may need to come in 3 to 4 months.
- Try Perio-Protect (we will discuss more on this later), and/or a combination of laser therapy.
How a West Kelowna Dentist Can Help You Combat Gum Disease
When patients come into my West Kelowna dentist office, I want them to know just how committed my team is to help patients prevent disease.
To that end, we offer a number of treatments to help prevent and treat periodontal disease.
To prevent disease, we recommend regular dental cleanings. How often is “regular”? That depends on your needs. Some patients come in every six months. Those who have a history of gum disease or are have risk factors need to come in every three to four months.
What if a patient already has gum disease?
In those cases, my dental hygienist will do a gum disease treatment called scaling and root planing. During this procedure, we remove all bacteria-laden plaque and calculus (tartar) from above and below the gumline.
We also use a gum disease treatment called Perio Protect to help treat the disease and heal your gums. You’ll receive a dental tray, similar to a mouthguard. Every day, you’ll place a special medication into the tray to fight the infection.
Wearing the Perio Protect tray allows the medication to go under the gumline. The medication has a better chance of working because it isn’t washed away by saliva.
Laser treatment is also another therapy we offer to treat periodontal disease, sometimes in combination with Perio Protect.
When a patient has advanced periodontal disease, I refer them to a periodontist.
A periodontist is a dentist that has extra training in gum health and disease. They have a broader range of experience and expertise, which is perfect for patients who have late-stage periodontal disease.
Let’s Work Hard to Prevent Gum Disease, Cancer, and Other Serious Diseases
Periodontal disease isn’t just linked to cancer. It’s also linked to many other diseases. These include heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and respiratory conditions.
Thankfully, there are steps we can take to try and prevent gum disease, thereby reducing your risk of getting these other diseases.
Carefully brush and floss every single day. Come into my West Kelowna dentist office for regular cleanings. If you need it, invest in a gum disease treatment or two.
These prevention practices are definitely an investment of time and money. In the long run, though, they can help prevent some very serious diseases.
My team and I do our best to protect your health with effective preventative treatment options. But we need your help and your commitment to do your part, too. Together, we have an even better chance of combating disease.
Dr. Shauna Palmer – dentist West Kelowna, provider of gum disease treatments.
If you’d like to learn more about our in-office gum disease treatments, check out our website or give us a call. We’re happy to answer your questions and schedule a comprehensive examination, which includes a periodontal evaluation and oral cancer screening.