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The Real, Serious Reasons Oral Hygiene is Important: Pancreatic Cancer

June 6, 2018

Man in dental chair for examYou may have heard of the “mouth body connection,” but many patients think that only refers to how poor oral health impedes the ability to consume nutritious foods. Actually, there’s much more to it. Numerous whole body health concerns have early warning signs that manifest as oral health concerns, and those patients with poor oral hygiene seem to have a greater risk for health issues, including pancreatic cancer. Oral hygiene is essential no matter what, but if you’re at an increased risk for pancreatic cancer, it may be even more important. In this post, we’ll discuss current research that has linked poor oral hygiene with increased risk for pancreatic cancer. The result of this research makes keeping up with regular preventive dentistry appointments even more essential.

Who’s Doing the Research?

In 2007, a group of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported evidence linking oral health and pancreatic cancer. Specifically, it linked periodontitis with increased risk for the disease. Milder gum disease, gingivitis, was not linked to increased risk, but it can develop into periodontitis if left untreated, so work with your dentist to renew oral health as soon as possible if you experience any level of gum disease.

What Did They Find?

The Harvard research was conducted over two decades beginning in 1986, and it showed that patients with advanced gum disease, periodontitis, were 64% more likely to suffer from pancreatic cancer. The researchers hypothesized that the link between the two diseases was the presence of nitrosamines, carcinogenic compounds, found in the mouths of periodontitis and pancreatic cancer sufferers alike. They followed up the first study in 2012 that determined the two diseases were linked, but they were unable to definitively say whether the nitrosamines were caused by periodontitis or pancreatic cancer only that they were common to patients who suffer from both.

How Does this Impact My Oral Hygiene Routine?

If you’re at high risk for gum disease, pancreatic cancer, or both, you should talk to your dentist about how to keep your smile whole and healthy. Keep up with your daily toothbrushing and flossing routine and visit the dentist at least twice each year for dental exams and professional teeth cleaning. If you suffer from periodontitis, you should speak to your medical doctor about screenings for pancreatic cancer.

 Meet the DeMartino Dental Group Team

The DeMartino Dental Group offers a wide range of preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services for our patients. We focus every dentistry plan on prevention. We partner with patients to keep their smiles healthy, and that includes providing screenings for gum disease during regular exams. We complete periodontal charting, measuring the depths of the pockets between teeth and gums, at every visit and carefully track changes. These changes can be the first indicators of gum disease. If you have questions or want to find out more, call to schedule an appointment in our Philipsburg dentistry practice.

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