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Gingivitis or Gum Cancer – How to Tell the Difference

September 9, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmarini @ 2:08 pm
Waterbury man with gingivitis holding cheek in pain

Your gums are swollen, red, and you see a bump that wasn’t there before. With over 47% of American adults ages 30 and older having some form of periodontal disease, you may assume this is gingivitis. How can you know if it’s something even more serious like gum cancer? While the only way to know for sure is to visit your dentist, there are a few things you should know regarding prevention and how to recognize the difference between gingivitis and oral cancer.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a mild but common form of periodontal or gum disease. Side effects include redness, swelling, gums that bleed easily, chronic bad breath, teeth appearing longer, and irritation. Gingivitis can lead to tooth loss or periodontitis, a much more serious gum infection that damages the bone and soft tissue that supports the teeth. Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of gingivitis, and taking care of your teeth and gums can help prevent and reverse it. Though the connection between gum disease and cancer isn’t clear, a study shared by Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention showed that elderly women with a history of gum disease may be at higher risk for developing other types of cancer such as lung, gall bladder, breast, and esophagus.

What Is Gum Cancer?

Gum cancer is a type of oral cancer. Some signs that you may have gum cancer include patches or irregular growths on the gums that are white and red in color. Splotches that are red and white or just red are usually malignant, and splotches that are just white are generally benign. Gum cancer spreads quickly and can show up anywhere in the mouth. Early detection increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Methods of Prevention

Seeing your dental health professional for regular checkups and cleanings is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of gum disease and detect oral cancer in its early stages. Keeping up with dental care at home is another excellent method of prevention. This includes brushing and using an ADA-Accepted antimicrobial mouthwash twice per day and flossing once per day. Avoiding tobacco products, drinking alcohol in moderation, and eating a balanced diet are also helpful steps to take. Foods that help make up a healthy, balanced diet include:

  • Dairy products like low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Calcium rich foods lie fortified soymilk, calcium sulfate tofu, canned salmon, and almonds
  • Eggs
  • Fish and lean meat
  • Veggies like peppers, spinach, and broccoli

If you feel or see something on your gums or elsewhere in your mouth that wasn’t there before, make sure to have it checked out by your dentist. Early treatment is the best way to prevent further issues so you can enjoy having a healthy mouth for years to come.

About the Practice

Dr. Luciano Marini, Dr. Ann Marie Mancini, Dr. Alexandra Galante, and the Waterbury Smiles team have been providing the residents of Waterbury and surrounding communities with compassionate dental care since 1986. Their exceptional oral health offerings have been thoughtfully designed to provide the entire family with the pleasant dental office experience they deserve. Through use of the latest dental technology, their dedication to cultivating an educational, safe, and fun environment can be seen in their patient’s smiles. To learn more about how to tell the difference between gingivitis and gum cancer, visit our website or call us at (203) 575-9097.

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