Breast Cancer: Raising Awareness About It And Oral Health
As many of you are well aware, breast cancer is near and dear to the hearts of our team. And with October being breast cancer awareness, we can’t help but spread the word about the importance of routine screenings, especially for women 40 or older, as the American Cancer Society noted.
We’ll do a “pink out” every day this month in solidarity with Dana Mann, Dr. Mann’s late wife, and to encourage awareness! So, we wanted to take some time to explain how maintaining good oral health habits may reduce your risk of this cancer and decrease your chances of complications during treatment.
The connection between breast cancer and gum disease
First and foremost, having gum disease, a common problem that almost half of all American adults have to some degree, is a risk factor for breast cancer.
Researchers from the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health evaluated a woman’s risk of breast cancer if she had gum disease. The results indicated a woman has a 14% greater likelihoodThis link opens a new tab to the University of Buffalo website of developing this cancer if she has gum disease compared to a woman without it, particularly in older women.
While this doesn’t seem significant, reducing your chances in any way possible is beneficial, especially if you have other risk factors.
Not only can brushing and flossing regularly and seeing our dentist routinely help you prevent gum disease and save your teeth, but it could even lessen the possibility of you developing breast cancer.
Oral health and breast cancer treatment
As we raise awareness about breast cancer and oral health, we can’t forget to mention the toll treatment can have on someone’s body and oral health. Our hearts go out to those contending with this diagnosis and treatment’s side effects, but we’re here to assist.
Oral side effects from cancer drugs
Chemotherapy can lead to dry mouth, increasing your odds of developing an oral infection. Because it can weaken your immune system, you may not be able to fight the infection as easily.
Moreover, your chances of developing an oral infection in general are heightened from this treatment. Other possible effects on oral health include gum pain, oral bleeding, and mouth ulcers.
Immunotherapy, such as Keytruda®, can cause side effects like dry mouth, mouth sores, and changes in your salivary glands.
How to prevent and minimize side effects
We encourage you to let us know about any treatment you’re taking so we can optimize your oral health throughout your therapy and reduce any long-term complications as much as possible while reducing any discomfort. We can even lessen the prevalence of side effects.
Some helpful hints we recommend as you undergo either of these cancer treatments or others are as follows:
- Drink plenty of water
- Chew sugarless gum—one with xylitol will help increase saliva production
- Suck on ice chips
- Brush and floss your teeth daily
- Rinse your mouth with salt water
- Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol to prevent worsening any mouth ulcers
We want to note that many side effects of chemo and immunotherapy for breast cancer will subside once you stop treatment. Taking care of your teeth during it can help save them.
A worthy foundation
The Dana Mann Foundation, established in honor of Dr. Mann’s late wife, who passed away in January, aims to support underprivileged children and families seeking private Christian education.
Dana Mann’s legacy is honored through this initiative, striving to impact the lives of those without the means to access Christian education, providing opportunities and resources for an education infused with faith and values.
We can’t stress enough that Dr. Ashley Mann and the rest of our team are here to help prevent oral health problems. Though we hope none of our patients ever experience breast cancer, we can assist along the journey.
Finally, we hope you get out all your pink, join the cause, and spread the word!