A recent study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden on more than 3,000 patients showed those who had gum disease and tooth loss had more than 11 times greater risk of developing breast cancer.
Although this is the first study to show a link between gum disease and breast cancer, gum disease has also been associated with pancreatic cancer, heart disease, stroke, and premature and low-birth-weight babies.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, a bacterial film that continuously forms on the teeth and gums. Over time, gum disease can cause bad breath, puffy and bleeding gums, loose teeth and, ultimately, tooth loss.
There are many contributing factors that can increase the risk and severity of gum disease. They include heredity, those who have medical problems that affect the immune system (leukemia, diabetes, AIDS, etc.), medical conditions or treatments that reduce the flow of saliva (Sjögren’s syndrome, dysfunction or removal of the salivary glands, or who take any of the many prescription drugs that can cause dry mouth), habits such as smoking, poor oral hygiene, emotional stress and malnutrition.
Recent studies also suggest low levels of vitamin D are also associated with gum disease.
A simple blood test can determine the amount of circulating vitamin D3, with a target level of at least 40ng/ml considered optimal.
It’s interesting to note some of the same maladies linked to gum disease, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, are also found in those who are chronically deficient in vitamin D.
Gum disease is treated a number of different ways, depending on how advanced it is.
Treatment options include deep cleaning under the gums, gum surgery, bone grafts and antibiotics.
Oral hygiene technique and instruction also play a critical role in the prevention and treatment of gum disease.
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Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.