If you need one more reason to take good care of your teeth and gums, here it is. Periodontal disease is linked to breast cancer. In a recent study, researchers found that women were 11 times more likely to develop breast cancer if they were missing teeth or had gum disease. While we need more research to support this finding, it does reinforce earlier studies linking gum disease to other health problems.

Tooth Decay

When we eat foods with sugars or starches, our body creates a sticky film of bacteria on our teeth called plaque. Plaque causes gum disease and inflammation, which can lead to tooth loss if not treated. This inflammation can affect other areas of our health, including increasing our risk for developing breast cancer.

Tooth decay is primarily a phenomenon of developed countries, where residents eat diets high in sugars and processed foods. Studies of primitive populations where people eat a diet based on whole foods find they have little or no tooth decay. These societies are also free of the many degenerative diseases that plague developed nations.

Thomas Rau, MD, director the Paracelsus Klinik (an alternative cancer treatment center in Switzerland) reviewed the records of 150 of his breast cancer patients. He found that 99 percent had one or more root canals in the same acupuncture meridians as their original cancer tumor, further evidence of the link between the two diseases.

Many holistic dental practitioners believe that root canals are actually the root cause of many cancers. According to the Independent Cancer Research Foundation, root canals are safe havens for microbes, keeping them far from the reaches of our immune system and from antibiotics. They believe microbes can seep out of our teeth and wreak havoc on our health.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Like so many of our modern day health problems, the key to controlling tooth decay is diet and nutrition. Limit sugar and processed foods. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice and flossing once each day to remove plaque-forming food remnants from your mouth. Have your teeth professional cleaned once or twice a year.

Be aware of changes that may signal periodontal disease: inflamed gums; gums that are red, swollen, or bleed easily; an unpleasant taste in your mouth; bad breath; loose teeth; or mouth infections.

Medical News Today. "Potential Tooth Loss Link To Breast Cancer." Web. 13 February 2011.

American Dental Association. "Tooth Decay (Caries)." Web.

New Cancer Treatments. "The Relationship Between Root Canals and Cancer." Web.

Mercola, Joseph Dr. "Root Canals Pose Health Threat: An Interview With George Meinig, D.D.S." Cure Zone. Web.

No One Dies of Cancer. "Root Canals and Breast Cancer." Web. 4 November 10.