Here's another reason to take your dental and oral hygiene seriously. According to a recent study, pre-menopausal women with a history of gum disease or infection may be at a higher risk of developing cancer. The study conducted on 65,869 postmenopausal women who enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, a prospective study to investigate factors affecting disease and death risk in older American women has thrown in some alarming revelations pertaining to neglected oral hygiene and its ramifications during old age. The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
The study's senior author Jean Wactawski-Wende, Professor at University at Buffalo, New York, said, "Our study was sufficiently large and detailed enough to examine not just overall risk of cancer among older women with periodontal disease, but also to provide useful information on a number of cancer-specific sites."
The average age of the participants was 68, and the group included mostly non-Hispanic white women. Participants were asked "has a dentist or dental hygienist ever told you that you had periodontal or gum disease?" in their follow-up questionnaire. Women with a history of gum disease had a 14 per cent increased risk of overall cancer, The risk was found to be the highest for esophageal cancer. "The esophagus is in close proximity to the oral cavity, and so periodontal pathogens may more easily gain access to and infect the esophageal mucosa and promote cancer risk at that site," Wactawski-Wende added.
Gallbladder cancer risk was next in line in women who reported a history of gum disease. Ngozi Nwizu, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston , said "Chronic inflammation has also been implicated in gallbladder cancer, but there has been no data on the association between periodontal disease and gallbladder risk. Ours is the first study to report on such an association," "Esophageal cancer ranks among the most deadly cancers and its etiology is not well known, but chronic inflammation has been implicated," she added. Brushing, flossing and rinsing are a must to maintain oral and dental hygeine. It is also advised to stay away from sugary foods for healthier gums. Instead, here are 5 foods you must include in your diet for healthier gums.
Apples are a great source of fiber that act as a cleansing agent. It contains malic acid that boosts saliva production, hence removing bacteria from the mouth. The fibrous texture of apples also helps in improving the health of your gums.
2. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are slightly abrasive in texture and therefore, they help in removing plaque and stains from your teeth. The omega-3 fatty acids present in walnuts and flax seeds can also help in lowering the risk of gum disease that can damage your teeth.
While calcium in milk fortifies your teeth, the protein casein helps reduce acid levels in the mouth, thereby reducing gum corrosion.
4. Leafy greens
Delhi-based Nutritionist Dr. Simran Saini tells us, "Fibre-packed leafy vegetables are good for both healthy teeth and gums. The extra saliva produced by continuous chewing of these high fibre foods neutralizes mouth bacteria and keeps your mouth clear of the gum-destroying bacteria. You eat lots green raw vegetables in the form of wholesome salads."
5. Vitamin C
According to Dr. Simran, the high amount of vitamin C found in oranges, berries and lime can also help in protecting the gums from infections.