Gum Disease

Bad toothbrushing habit massively increases your chance of catching cancer

Your lifestyle and habits can contribute to your risk of developing cancer. Skipping one common hygiene practice has been found to put you at 52% increased risk of getting the disease

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HEE demonstrates how to brush your teeth effectively

HEE demonstrates how to brush your teeth effectively

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It’s not always clear why cancer cells grow and divide in our bodies. But identifying any factors that may be putting you at risk can help minimise your chances of developing the killer disease.

There has been increasing evidence of how poor lifestyle choices and habits is linked to a higher risk of developing cancer. This includes things like smoking, eating processed food, which are now well-known risk factors.

However, a recent study from Harvard has highlighted one common mistake related to your oral hygiene that could be increasing your risk. Here’s what you need to know about it.

How does your brushing habit increase risk of cancer?

Woman brushing her teeth, smiling, close-up Those with history of gum disease have been found to be at higher risk of develop two types of cancer (



The Harvard study published in the journal Gut late last year has found that gum disease could lead to a significantly higher risk of two cancers.

Scientists found that microbes camping out between your teeth and gums may affect your risk for cancers of the stomach and oesophagus.

The research included almost 150,000 men and women, who were given a follow-up after a gap of 28 years.

It revealed that people with a history of gum disease are 43 percent more likely to develop oesophageal cancer and 52 percent more likely to develop gastric (stomach) cancer than those whose gums are healthier. Risk was found to be even higher among those with gum disease severe enough to cause tooth loss.

While the study doesn't prove that gum disease causes cancer, it does mean that in future doctors might be able to look at your gum health when assessing your overall cancer risk.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

A man with inflammed gums examined by a dentist Red, swollen or bleeding gums are among the earliest signs of gum disease (


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Gum disease is a very common condition in which gums become swollen, sore or infected. It can be caused by a number of factors, but usually a build-up of plaque on your teeth due to lack of brushing is a primary cause.

The first signs of gum disease according to the NHS are:

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing your teeth

This initial stage is called gingivitis, which if left untreated can affect the tissues and bone that support the teeth as well, becoming periodontitis.

Symptoms of periodontitis are:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)

  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth

  • Loose teeth that can make eating difficult

  • Collections of pus that develop under your gums or teeth (gum abscesses)

How to prevent gum disease

In most cases, it's easy to prevent gum disease by improving your oral hygiene. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day, floss at least once a day, and get a dental exam and cleaning regularly.

Sometimes you may need further treatment such as periodontal surgery if your gum disease is more severe.

The NHS explained: "Your dentist will be able to tell you about the procedure needed and how it's carried out. If necessary, they can refer you to a specialist."

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