Good Dental Habits Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer
Everyone knows October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What you might not know is that there’s a significant link between your dental health and breast cancer, which affects 1 in 8 women American women. Poor dental health is not only linked to heart disease and diabetes — Studies show that women who have gum disease or missing teeth are 11 times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. So good dental habits can improve your dental health and overall health, as well as reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Reduce Your Risks
Preventing gum disease is a daily effort. Even if you do everything right, there is still a chance you’ll get gum disease and still a chance you’ll be diagnosed with breast cancer. But if you follow your dentist’s advice and some simple tips, you can help reduce the risk for both.
- Brush and Floss Daily: The easiest way to remember to brush is 2 minutes, 2 times a day. As for flossing, some people do it after every meal. But even just once daily is perfect for maintaining good oral health.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: We recommend a diet customized for your health with consultation from your family dentist or nutritionist, but “an apple a day” is actually great advice. As part of a balanced diet, apples are a good source of fiber, vitamin C & A, potassium and apples can even help clean your teeth after a meal. So try an apple next time you need to satisfy your sweet tooth after a meal!
- Visit the Dentist Regularly: In general patients should see their dentist once every six months. If you’re at risk for gum disease, every three months is recommended.
- Avoid Cigarettes and Tobacco: This one goes without saying. Not only do cigarettes and tobacco stain your teeth and make your breath smell bad, they increase your chances of gum disease, tooth decay and all types of cancer. Avoid them altogether.
Warning Signs of Gum Disease
Even if you follow our tips to reduce risk, genetics, pure chance and other lifestyle choices can still cause gum disease. It’s best to be aware of the warning signs of gum disease so that you can visit your dentist as soon as you notice something. When it comes to gum disease and detecting cancer in your body, early recognition is critical.
Flora Stay, DDS, writes: The first sign of gum disease is inflammation. You’ll know when this is present as your gums appear slightly red, tender, and may even bleed when you brush or floss. The main cause of inflammation is bacteria that form a film called plaque, and stick to the gum and teeth surfaces. If this plaque is not removed at least once per day, the problem can advance to severe gum disease. As inflammation advances, the disease effects destruction of the gums and eventually bone. The teeth develop tooth decay, become loose and may have to be extracted. This is why dental visits are very important at least every three months to monitor the health and condition of your teeth and gums, especially with the presence of cancer.
Daily Oral Hygiene Tips
It’s recommend you have a dental checkup one month prior to starting treatment so that you can discuss your oral health with the person who knows your mouth best — your dentist. For women who are already undergoing treatment, we’ve provided some helpful tips for maintaining your oral health. But always remember to consult your dentist and doctor before trusting any advice you read on the Internet!
- Use alcohol-free rinse
- Avoid candy and soda
- Use ice chips, dry mouth rinses and sugar-free gum to combat dry mouth
- Brush with mild fluoride toothpaste and an extra soft toothbrush 3x a day and floss gently daily