Oral health is an essential aspect of overall well-being. Gum diseases, such as gingivitis and gum cancer, can be detrimental to your health if left untreated. However, distinguishing between the two can be challenging, as they share some similar symptoms.
Gingivitis is a common type of gum disease that affects millions of people globally. It is characterized by inflammation of the gums, often leading to bleeding while brushing or flossing. On the other hand, gum cancer is a rare but severe form of cancer that can affect the gums, lips, or mouth. The symptoms of gum cancer are often confused with gingivitis, which makes it challenging to identify the disease early on.
This article aims to explore the differences between gum cancer and gingivitis.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that is caused by the buildup of plaque on the teeth. It’s the sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth when food particles are not removed properly. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar, which can irritate the gums and cause them to become inflamed.
The symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding gums, especially when brushing or flossing
- Gums that are tender or painful
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Gingivitis is a reversible condition, but it can progress to periodontitis if it is not treated. Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease that can cause bone loss and tooth loss.
To prevent gingivitis, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene. This involves brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing daily, and regularly visiting your dentist for checkups and cleanings.
If you have gingivitis, our dentist can remove the plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth. They may also prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to address the tartar and bone loss resulting from gingivitis.
With proper treatment, gingivitis can be successfully treated. However, it is important to continue to practice good oral hygiene to prevent the condition from recurring.
What is Gum Cancer?
Gum cancer, also known as oral cancer, is a form of cancer that originates in the tissues of the mouth. It ranks as the sixth most common cancer in men and the twelfth most common in women. Gum cancer is primarily detected on the tongue, but it can also develop on the gums, lips, cheek, roof of the mouth and floor of the mouth.
The most common cause of gum cancer is tobacco use, including chewing tobacco, snuff, and smoking cigarettes. Other risk factors for gum cancer include excessive alcohol use, poor oral hygiene, and exposure to certain types of viruses, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV).
The early stages of gum cancer often do not cause any symptoms. However, as cancer grows, it can cause a variety of symptoms including:
- A sore that does not heal
- A lump or growth in the mouth
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Pain in the mouth or jaw
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Numbness in the mouth
- Ear pain
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a dentist or doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for improving the chances of a successful outcome.
The treatment for gum cancer depends on the extent of the cancer. In the early stages, the cancer may be able to be removed with surgery or radiation therapy. In more advanced stages, a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy may be used.
The prognosis for gum cancer depends on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. The survival rate for people with early-stage gum cancer is high. However, the survival rate for people with advanced-stage gum cancer is lower.
What are the differences between gingivitis to gum cancer?
Even though both gum diseases are connected with the gums and affect the mouth, gingivitis and gum cancer are two very different conditions.
Gingivitis is a common, reversible gum disease caused by bacterial plaque buildup on teeth. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease that can cause bone and tooth loss.
Gum cancer is a rare type of cancer that starts in the mouth’s tissues. It is most commonly found on the tongue but can also occur on the gums, lips, cheek, roof of the mouth, and floor of the mouth.
Here are some of the key differences between gingivitis and gum cancer:
- Cause: Gingivitis is caused by bacterial plaque buildup, while gum cancer is caused by a combination of factors, including tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, poor oral hygiene, and exposure to certain viruses, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Signs and symptoms: Gingivitis can cause red, swollen, and bleeding gums, while gum cancer can cause a sore that does not heal, a lump or growth in the mouth, bleeding gums, loose teeth, pain in the mouth or jaw, difficulty chewing or swallowing, numbness in the mouth, and ear pain.
- Treatment: Gingivitis can be treated with good oral hygiene, which includes brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Gum cancer is treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
- Prognosis: Gingivitis is a reversible condition, while gum cancer is a serious disease that can be fatal if left untreated.
It is important to see our dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings so that any signs of gingivitis or gum cancer can be detected early. Early diagnosis is essential for improving the chances of a successful treatment outcome.