When it comes to maintaining your oral health, proper dental hygiene and the maintenance of preventive care have to be included in the puzzle. Otherwise, bacteria can accumulate and leave you more susceptible to developing gum disease, which can lead to oral cancer. So you can be protected, read on to learn about these two conditions, how they differ and what can be done to avoid them.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease typically comes about through a chain reaction of events. It all starts with bacteria that accumulate in the mouth. Over time, hundreds of different types can form a super structure called plaque, which is a clear, sticky substance that clings to the teeth and along the gum line. Untreated, the plaque can travel beneath the gum line to cause germ pockets to form between the gum tissue and the supporting structures beneath it.
Considered as the initial phase of gum disease, called gingivitis, some of the warning signs may be gum bleeding, foul breath, tender gums, or red or white spots along any of the soft tissue. It’s of the utmost importance to receive treatment for the condition because it can otherwise lead to tooth loss, and it can contribute to the development of oral cancer.
The Difference Between Gum Disease and Oral Cancer
This year, over 50,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with oral cancer, with nearly 14,000 cases predicted to end fatally. As eluded to earlier, scientists have found a connection between untreated gum disease and the development of oral cancer, the common denominator being the presence of oral bacteria and habits such as smoking or chewing tobacco. As evidence of its potentially harmful effects, 75% of patients 50 years or older diagnosed with oral cancer are tobacco users.
With early detection, oral cancer is very treatable, with the five-year survival rate near 70% when the disease is addressed proactively. The ultimate goal, though, is prevention.
Ways to Prevent Gum Disease and Oral Cancer
The best way to treat a problem is to avoid it all together. Here are habits that are crucial to the proper maintenance of your oral health:
- Brush and floss your teeth al least two times a day to remove bacteria.
- Monitor the amount of sugar you consume, since it’s what bacteria feed on.
- Maintain regular visits with your dentist for cleanings and examinations (which includes oral cancer screenings). Therefore, if there are any problems on the horizon, they can be eliminated before they become serious health threats.
Now that you have a plan of action for avoiding gum disease and oral cancer, the next step is to contact your local dentist today to schedule a preventive care appointment!
About the Author
Dr. Ryan Eskridge earned his dental degree from The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. For the past 14 years, he has been considered as one of the top dentists in his area. Dr. Eskridge helps patients prevent and treat both gum disease and oral cancer at Wedgewood Complete Dentistry, and he can be reached for more information through his website.