Is there a Link Between Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer?
Affecting an estimated 50,000 Americans per year, pancreatic cancer is believed to have a direct connection with the diagnosis of gum disease (yet another reason to see your periodontist regularly). What are the signs of gum disease, and what do your gums have to do with pancreatic cancer? Continue reading to learn more about the link between gum disease and pancreatic cancer.
Oral Health is Linked to Overall Health
You know that your oral health is important, but did you know that the bacteria in your mouth can lead to inflammation and infections that have implications far beyond gingivitis and cavities?
Studies conclude that poor oral health can lead to not only pancreatic cancer but also:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory diseases such as bacterial pneumonia and bronchitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Premature birth
- Increased risk for severe COVID infection
- And more!
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a gum infection that is most often a result of inadequate oral hygiene. A common condition, gum disease, affects 64.7 million people in the United States.
There are two stages of gum disease:
This stage of gum disease is the milder stage. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums. Treatment for gingivitis typically includes a professional cleaning of the pockets around your teeth to prevent damage to the surrounding bone tissue and maintaining a strict home oral hygiene care.
In the more advanced stage of gum disease, periodontitis occurs when the pockets surrounding the gums become deeper and deeper and collect an increasing amount of bacteria. Periodontitis can result in irreversible damage to the surrounding bone.
The Connection Between Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer
Recent studies show a distinct correlation, while not much is fully understood about the connection between gum disease and pancreatic cancer.
A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a link between a bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivalis and the development of pancreatic cancer.
In this study, researchers compared the saliva samples from 361 participants who later developed pancreatic cancer with 371 samples from participants who did not develop the condition. The study found that participants with significant levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis had a 59% increase in their risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Previous research indicated an association between gum disease and pancreatic cancer. Still, this study is the first to show that high levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis can precede pancreatic cancer rather than develop due to cancer.
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer originates in the pancreas, an organ that produces enzymes that aid in digestion and the hormone insulin that is crucial for sugar metabolism. This form of cancer has a relatively lower survival rate than other types of cancer.
Take Care of Your Gums!
While studies have not reached a consensus on gum disease being the causation of pancreatic cancer, these studies indicate a correlation. It is essential to take care of your gums to prevent cancer as well as other health conditions.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Gums
- Brush your teeth regularly. Brushing your teeth twice per day reduces your risk of gum disease.
- Just as important as brushing, flossing twice a day helps remove bacteria from hard-to-reach areas and prevents the buildup of dangerous bacteria in your gums.
- Quit using tobacco. If you needed another reason to call it quits, know that tobacco use increases the risk of gum disease.
- Eat a healthy diet. A balanced, healthy diet with minimal sweets helps keep your gums (and teeth!) in the best possible condition.
- Make regular appointments with your periodontist. Your periodontist will let you know how often you should be seen to keep any gum issues in check.
Make an Appointment with Dental Implants and Periodontal Health of Rochester
At Dental Implants and Periodontal Health of Rochester, we don’t just care about your oral health – we want to change the way you think about going to the periodontist. Protect your gums and your overall health, and make an appointment with our office today! Give us a call at 585-685-2005 to schedule.