Here’s something interesting to consider. There seems to be a link between having gum disease and getting breast cancer.

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease of the mouth. Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky colorless plaque on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form tartar that brushing cannot clean off. Only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.

Periodontal disease has been linked in the past to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other cancers. A study by the American Association for Cancer Research, released in December 2015, shows periodontal disease is related to a higher incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Among women who had quit smoking in the past 20 years, those with gum disease had a 32 percent higher incidence of breast cancer than women who had no oral health problems. More research is needed on this topic, but it seems to support the practice of good dental hygiene for all women, whether smokers, former smokers, or those who have never smoked.