Without good oral hygiene practices, oral bacteria continue to multiply, which can then lead to serious health conditions. In fact, an overabundance of oral bacteria can even be linked to oral cancer.
Gum DiseaseGum disease is an infection of the gum tissue. Oral bacteria irritate the gums, causing them to become red and inflamed. Left unchecked, gum disease progresses from gingivitis (an easily treatable stage of gum disease) to periodontitis (a more serious form of gum disease that requires professional intervention).
Bacteria fall below the gum line, attacking not only the gum tissue, but the teeth and jawbone as well. And severe periodontitis greatly increases your likelihood of developing oral cancer.
Oral CancerOral cancer, or cancer of the mouth, affects thousands of people in the United States every year. It can affect your gums, tongue, cheeks, roof or floor of the mouth and even the entrance to the throat. When not diagnosed, and treated early, it is a deadly cancer, which is what makes early detection so important.
There are symptoms that you can be on the lookout for:
|•||White or red patches in your mouth that won't go away.|
|•||Changes in your teeth.|
|•||Bad taste in your mouth.|
There are a few factors that raise your risk of developing oral cancer:
|•||Smoking or other tobacco products (associated with approximately 70-80% of oral cancer cases).|
|•||Excessive alcohol use.|
|•||Certain strains of HPV.|
|•||Poor oral hygiene practices. Poor oral hygiene is also often associated with tobacco and alcohol use.|
Preventing Oral CancerThere are steps you can take to help lower your risk for developing oral cancer. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol use are important, as these are associated with most oral cancer cases. Take precautions to prevent HPV.
And finally, take care of your mouth. Regular brushing and flossing, along with periodic dental visits, will help to limit bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease. Your dentist will also be able to check your mouth for any abnormalities that you may not otherwise notice, spotting problems early and putting a stop to them.
Keeping oral bacteria at bay is one important step to reducing your oral cancer risk. If you do notice anything odd, don't wait for your next appointment. Contact our office right away.