If you have periodontitis, a serious gum disease that damages your soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth, your dentist has probably already told you that it can increase your risk of heart disease.
Now, according to a new study reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, it's been revealed that persistent periodontitis can also be a major risk factor for head and neck cancers!
Study warns that persistent periodontitis can put you at risk of head and neck cancers
For the study, researchers from The State University of New York in the US looked at 266 patients with cancers of the head or neck who were treated between 1999 and 2005. They also look at 207 control subjects.
Researchers used x-rays to determine alveolar bone loss periodontitis, noted Dr Mine Tezal and his colleagues noted. Your alveolar bone is the thickened ridge of bone that contains your tooth sockets, holding them in place. Loss of this bone is usually seen with severe periodontal disease.
Researchers concluded that for every millimetre of alveolar bone loss, a patient’s risk of head and neck cancer
increased more than four-fold, the report stated. For those who smoked tobacco and drank alcohol regularly, their risk was even higher, researchers added.
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Five habits to reduce your risk of periodontitis
The good news is that periodontitis is completely preventable. By incorporating these five habits into your daily routine, you can significantly reduce your risk:
#1: Brush your teeth day and night
Brushing your teeth in both the morning and evening will remove food debris and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. And don’t forget your tongue – bacteria loves hiding there!
#2: Floss once a day
Flossing your teeth at least once a day will help remove food particles and plaque between your teeth and along your gum line that your toothbrush is unable to reach.
#3: Use mouthwash
Using a mouthwash will help remove remaining food particles and plaque that brushing and flossing missed. Make sure you swish your mouthwash around in your mouth for a minute or two.
#4: Live a healthy lifestyle
Unhealthy lifestyle factors such as smoking tobacco and following an unhealthy diet can boost your risk for periodontitis. Age is a big risk factor, too – to find out how you can reduce your risk of gum disease as you get older, be sure to talk with your dental professional.
#5: See a periodontist
A periodontist will do a comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE), which is an assessment that looks at your teeth, plaque levels, gums, bite, bone structure and other risk factors for periodontitis. Identifying early symptoms of gum disease is key to preventing it! Everyone should get a CPE done once a year.
Any additional tips for healthy teeth and gums that you’d like to share with us?