We are always told it pays to look after our teeth and for women this seems to be especially the case if you want to minimise your risk of breast cancer and indeed other health risks. A study carried out by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden on over three thousand patients showed that those who had gum disease and loss of teeth were 11 times more likely to develop cancer.
This seems alarming, but it is only a very small study and the first of its kind to present such findings. The Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes more needs to be done in order to confirm the results.
However, we do know that several findings have been released to support the notion that infections in the mouth can affect other areas of your general health. In people who have gum disease, it is thought that bacteria from the mouth can get into the blood stream and affect the heart, causing a higher risk of heart disease. The same principles affect those with diabetes, as people with the condition are more likely to pick up infections. People with gum disease are also thought to be at a higher risk of strokes and chest infections with pregnant women being seven times more likely to have a premature baby with a low birth weight.
Unfortunately as gum disease develops painlessly, there aren’t many ways in which you can detect problems early on. What you can do is to look out for inflamed gums which are red, swollen and bleed easily on brushing or even when eating sharp or hard foods. Also notice if you have an unpleasant taste in your mouth or bad breath, check for loose teeth and keep an eye out for regular mouth infections.
The best way to prevent and treat gum disease is to ensure you remove all the plaque from between your teeth by brushing for two minutes twice a day with toothpaste. You also need to clean in between your teeth at least once a day with interdental brushes or dental floss as this is the area where gum disease starts. Regular visits to the dentist can also help to identify early signs of gum disease.