Normally, we like to keep things upbeat here at Dental City. That’s who we are and how we like to tackle each and every day. But sometimes things should be talked about even if they’re not pleasant. Breast cancer is one of those things.
It seems that today everyone knows a family member or friend that has, or has themselves, been affected by breast cancer. That means that everyone can benefit from having a little more knowledge about the effects of this disease and how it’s connected to dental health. Because, as the saying goes, knowledge is power.
Poor gum health increases risk of breast cancer?
According to a study by the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, people with chronic gum disease have a higher occurrence of breast cancer. This is because gum disease can produce a bacteria that suppresses the immune system. And when the immune system isn’t functioning at its highest level, the risk for breast cancer increases.
Oral care during cancer treatment
When it comes to treating patients with breast cancer (or any cancer really) it’s important to remember that the treatment they’re receiving—chemotherapy and/or radiation—affects their oral health. The mouth has fast-renewing cells, acting similarly to cancer cells, meaning they’re targeted by chemo and radiation. The destruction of these healthy cells makes their mouths more susceptible to bacteria that can cause oral health problems. To help your patients minimize the negative side effects of cancer treatment, you can offer them these tips.
- Brush with a soft toothbrush or sponge and floss gently
- Use an alcohol free mouthwash with fluoride (even better if it also has xylitol)
- Avoid dental treatment if white blood cell counts are low and for a week after treatment
- Do not ignore even small issues (like slight inflammation)
- Have regular dental check-ups