On topic with Dr. Dill: 

connection between breast cancer and gum disease

More than 250,000 Americans are diagnosed with breast cancer every year1 — and your oral health may play a factor in your risk. A number of studies have suggested women with gum disease can be at higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Some studies have found that postmenopausal women with gum disease may be more at risk of breast cancer than postmenopausal women who do not have gum disease. When combined with a history of smoking, the risk can be even higher.

Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, can appear in several ways. In its earliest stages, gum disease can be painless with only minor signs. Good at-home oral health care and regular dental visits are both important to maintaining healthy gums and catching any issues early. Along with regular dental checkups, keep a watchful eye on your gums for any puffiness, consistent bleeding or if gums start pulling away from your teeth. Catching these signs early is critical, as starting treatment right away will help prevent a more serious case of gum disease from developing.



The risk of breast cancer may be slightly higher for women who have gum disease.

One of the most common courses of treatment for any kind of cancer is chemotherapy. Like most medications and treatments, chemotherapy comes with a long list of potential side effects, including those that can influence oral health. If possible, see your dentist one month prior to starting chemotherapy treatment to help avoid serious oral health problems and lessen potential side effects.

Potential side effects of chemotherapy

Also known as patient charts, dental records include:

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    Painful mouth and gum inflammation

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    Difficulty eating, swallowing or talking

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    Dry mouth that may lead to tooth decay and gum disease

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    Burning, peeling or swelling of the tongue

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    Increased risk of mouth infection

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    Changes in taste

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    Mouth sores

Monthly self-exams are an important part of preventive care. Be sure to check for any hard lumps or abnormalities in your breast tissue.

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Meet Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy, Joseph Dill, DDS. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.

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