Have you heard of the mouth-body connection? Poor oral health can easily lead to poor health in general and vice versa. Periodontal disease – more commonly known as gum disease – is an excellent example. When left alone, it can easily lead to tooth loss, but surprisingly it can also increase your risk for life-threatening diseases. Take the time to learn why gum disease treatment in Houston might ultimately protect you from liver cancer.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when the soft tissues that hold your teeth in your mouth become infected. This is usually the result of poor brushing and flossing; without proper oral hygiene, plaque is allowed to build up and harden on your teeth, which in turn gives bacteria a chance to attack the gums. Early gum disease is called gingivitis. Your gums will become swollen and may bleed easily, but the issue can potentially be reversed with a thorough cleaning from your dentist and improved dental health habits. If gingivitis isn’t treated quickly, however, it’ll become periodontitis, leading to gum recession and putting your teeth at risk.
How Is Gum Disease Linked To Liver Cancer?
A study in the United European Gastroenterology Journal found that patients with poor oral health (such as those suffering from gum disease) had a 75% greater chances of also having hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common form of liver cancer. As of now, it’s not entirely clear what causes this connection, although it may have to do with the fact that a diseased liver will let bacteria in your mouth (and the rest of your body) live longer and do more damage. Another possibility is poor nutrition; if you suffer from extensive tooth loss (a common outcome of untreated gum disease), there’ll be fewer foods you can eat, making it more difficult to maintain a balanced diet, which in turn can affect your risk for liver cancer.
How Can You Protect Your Liver From Gum Disease?
There’s no guarantee that avoiding gum disease will prevent liver cancer altogether, but a healthy mouth will certainly make it easier to maintain a healthy body. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps to follow to take care of your gums:
- Brush and floss at least twice a day. Make sure you’re brushing as thoroughly as possible; it can be easy to miss the area near the gum line without meaning to.
- Use an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth.
- Schedule at least two dental checkups and cleanings each year, even if you don’t think you have poor oral health in Houston.
If you do notice the warning signs of gum disease, call your periodontist right away. The sooner you have it treated, the easier it’ll be to protect your mouth and your body from cancer and other potentially devastating conditions.