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By Chrissy Boothroyd

As if hot flashes and menopause aren’t enough, a recent study has found a link between periodontal (gum) disease: a 14% increase in cancer among older women and a 12% increase in women that have never smoked.  The study followed more than 73,000 post-menopausal women enrolled in the ongoing Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.   

Periodontal disease is linked to a significant increase in breast cancer – 14% higher than in women that do not have periodontal disease. Smoking history is long known to cause oral cancers and worsen the effects of gum disease. For women that have quit in the last 20 years, women with gum disease had a 36% higher risk of breast cancer than those without gum disease. Gum disease is also linked to an increase in melanoma, oral, head and neck, gallbladder, lung, and stomach cancers. Periodontal pathogens have been found in pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions. Although the exact reason for this isn’t known, researchers believe that the bacteria may spread through inhalation or saliva when you swallow, as well as bacteria entering the bloodstream through oral tissues.

The oral cavity is a part of the human body and should not be overlooked when evaluating one’s overall health. We have long known that periodontal disease leads to tooth loss, but this may have long term implications in maintaining good oral health for overall well-being. The good news is that periodontal disease is both preventable and manageable. So, the next time you think about cancelling your dental appointment or are too tired to floss, think about how you could be affecting your body.

It should also be noted that the occurrence of oral cancer is on the rise! Over 49,000 people in the United States are affected by oral cancer every year and one in every four of these people had no risk factors when diagnosed. These statistics are alarming but can be improved simply by prevention and early detection. Through lifestyle changes and annual screenings, you have the power to decrease your chances of getting oral cancer. Vizilite Plus® is a simple, painless procedure that involves a rinse and the use of a light wand. It helps detect tissue abnormalities that may go undetected during a standard visual exam. We are committed to providing the best care possible for our patients and are focused on prevention and early detection of all oral diseases. Please inquire about Vizilite Plus® oral cancer screening exam at your next check-up. Please call (609) 884-5335, follow along on Facebook, or email Dr. Ee at with any questions.

Cape May Dental Associates is located at 411 Park Blvd. in Cape May. Please call our office at (609) 884-5335 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ee.

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