Oral health has been linked to numerous illnesses including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and others. A new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention confirms that women with periodontal (gum) disease are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer.
“Women with periodontal disease who were former smokers had a 36% higher risk of breast cancer, women who were smoking at the time of the study had a 32% higher risk of breast cancer, and non-smokers with gum disease were still at a 14% elevated risk," says Dr. Leslie Renee Townsend, DDS, Regional Dental Director for Jefferson Dental Clinics.
An estimated half of all adults has some level of periodontal disease. Poor oral health and smoking are two main causes of periodontal disease. Pockets in the gums form around the teeth, providing a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause teeth to loosen and even fall out. Inflammation from gum disease can aggravate other illnesses throughout the body.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers amongst all women, claiming about 40,000 lives each year. While good periodontal health won’t eliminate cancer, gum disease is preventable and treatable with good oral hygiene.
“Twice daily brushing and flossing are the best ways to keep the teeth and gums healthy,” says Dr. Townsend. “Your dentist can be an ally to help monitor the signs of gum disease.”