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October 4, 2021

Gingivitis or Gum Cancer? Here’s What to Look For

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_berquist @ 6:49 pm
closeup of gums

Gum disease, even if it’s mild – nobody wants that. Gingivitis is to be taken seriously and treated promptly, but obviously gum cancer is on an entirely different level of concern.

If your gums are inflamed, it makes sense to wonder what caused it and to figure out exactly what you are dealing with. The best answer is to make an appointment with your dentist so they can diagnose if you have gingivitis in Crown Point, but in the meantime keep reading to learn about how you can recognize each affliction and what you should do regarding prevention.

The Telltale Signs of Gingivitis

Plaque buildup causes gingivitis, which is a bacterial infection resulting in inflammation of the gums around the base of the teeth. As oral bacteria consume starches and sugars in your mouth, they release plaque acids that accumulate over time.

Without sufficient oral hygiene practices, this thin biofilm of acids hardens on your gums, which irritates them and results in inflammation. A person with gingivitis may notice these symptoms:

  • Sensitive, swollen, or red gums
  • Development of gum pockets, which appear between your teeth and gums
  • Chronic bad breath that won’t go away even after brushing
  • Gums that easily bleed
  • Teeth that appear longer than they used to

With little-to-no symptoms in the early stages, gum disease can be tough to detect at first. That’s a great reason to be sure you stick with routine dental checkups every six months so gingivitis can’t get a foothold in the first place.

Preliminary Indications of Gum Cancer

Approximately 53,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, which includes gum cancer, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The most common sign of gum cancer is the development of white or red patches on gum tissue, which is called erythroleukoplakia.

When only white patches are present, they can potentially be benign. Conversely, patches that are only red have a higher probability of malignancy. If you see patches of either color on your gums, definitely follow up with your dentist so they can examine them.

What Factors Raise My Risk of Gum Disease?

While anyone can develop gum disease, certain conditions elevate your risk:

  • Smoking: It weakens your immune system and doubles your risk of gum disease.
  • Diabetes: If your blood sugar is not well-controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva encourage growth of bad bacteria and more plaque on your teeth.
  • Certain drugs: Oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and blood pressure drugs can all encourage growth of plaque and elevate gum disease risk.
  • Dry mouth: This condition becomes more common with age. Drinking water and chewing sugarless gum can help combat dry mouth.

An appointment and examination by your dentist is the logical first step if you suspect you have gum disease. Be sure to practice good oral hygiene leading up to your appointment and definitely don’t use tobacco products, as they can make your symptoms worse.

About the Practice

At Berquist Family Dentistry, we offer comprehensive dental care to Northwest Indiana and beyond. We serve patients of all ages with personalized care, flexible scheduling, and same-day emergency treatment. If you suspect you may have gingivitis or gum cancer in Crown Point, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. We can conduct an oral cancer screening. Or if you are currently doing well, making an appointment for a dental exam and cleaning is a wise move to help ensure your gums remain healthy. You can visit our website or call (219) 226-0544.

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