Periodontal Disease Can Increase Risk for Breast Cancer

Over the years, scientists have learned that periodontal disease isn’t just bad for your teeth. It can also be bad for your general health, causing problems with your cardiovascular health, diabetes, and beyond. Now, recent research suggests that periodontal disease can also increase the chances that postmenopausal women develop breast cancer, especially those with a history of smoking.

Periodontal disease starts as inflammation in the gums, typically caused by bacteria and poor oral hygiene. When bacteria attach to your teeth, gums, or the regions of your jawbone that hold your teeth in place, the infection that follows can result in the loss of your teeth if not treated in time.

Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. A group of eight increasingly destructive periodontal diseases can gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. It all begins through a simple infection in the gums. Dental plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, causing them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets. Plaque can also harden – above or below the gum line — into a rough substance known as tartar.

As periodontal disease progresses, supporting gum tissue and the bones that hold your teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, you can lose teeth.

Periodontal disease damages the teeth, gums and jawbone of more than 80% of Americans by the time they reach 45.

The recent research, published in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, claims that “among all women, the risk of breast cancer was 14% higher in those who had periodontal disease. Among women who had quit smoking within the past 20 years, those with periodontal disease had a 36% higher risk of breast cancer.”

The researchers noted that the explanation for the connection could come from the bacteria that enter our circulation from the mouth, eventually making its way into breast tissue. While the research isn’t causal, it does establish more evidence that periodontal disease doesn’t just negatively impact your mouth.

If you have any questions about periodontal disease or if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.

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