While you and your family enjoy are enjoying fall and celebrating Halloween with costumes and candy, don’t forget to take a moment to think pink, because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sadly, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find a person totally unaffected by the disease, whether it’s an aunt, sister, friend or even a friend of a friend.
But a surprising statistic is that your oral health actually has a link to breast cancer. You may be more than 11 times more likely to develop breast cancer if you possess poor oral health.
One result of poor oral health is gum disease, which has been linked to several chronic illnesses, such as pneumonia, prostate cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer.
The first indicator of gum disease is when your gums are red, tender, and may bleed when you brush or floss. The main source of inflammation is the plaque that adheres to the surfaces of your gum and teeth. If this plaque is not consistently removed, the problem can lead to severe gum disease.
As inflammation progresses, it can destroy the gums and ultimately the bone and the teeth will have to be extracted. This is just one reason why recurring dental visits are very important to keep an eye on the health and condition of your teeth and gums, especially with the presence of cancer.
There also some other connections between breast cancer and your oral health. If chemotherapy or radiation is prescribed as part of treatment for cancer, severe side effects can include:
- Serious inflammation of the mouth.
- Higher risk of infection in the mouth.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Alterations to your taste.
- Difficulty with speech and eating.
- Growth of an oral yeast infection.
- Aching and burning that feels similar to a toothache.
The goal of this annual campaign is to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.