Scientists and researchers have long suspected a link between oral health and overall health, especially when it comes to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. As they conduct more research, they are discovering other ways that oral health is connected to other health conditions. They have found a possible relationship between pancreatic cancer and poor oral health.

dental care and pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic Cancer

Although pancreatic cancer is relatively rare when compared to other types of cancer, only 3% to 6% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive for five years after diagnosis. In fact, pancreatic cancer has the lowest five year survival rate of all types of cancer. Since there are not necessarily symptoms associated with early stage pancreatic cancer, many patients are only diagnosed in later stages when the disease cannot be properly treated. As a result, any way to reduce a patient’s risk should be explored to help prevent this disease.

Risk Factors

Researchers found that people with periodontal disease, bleeding gums, and missing teeth have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. While researchers have yet to establish a cause and effect relationship that proves poor oral health causes pancreatic cancer, people with poor oral health are more likely to suffer from the disease. However, they are still researching this relationship to better understand it.

Specific Bacteria

The researchers found that those patients who had two specific types of bacteria in their mouths had a 50% increased likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer. These bacteria are Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. Not all people who had this bacteria in their mouths developed pancreatic cancer.

Proactive Dental Care

There is good news. By taking care of your teeth, you can reduce some of your risk for developing pancreatic cancer. This includes proactive dental care with regular trips to the dentist and dental cleanings.

It’s Not Too Late

If you already have bleeding gums and/or periodontal disease, it’s not too late to do something about it. While the research didn’t evaluate the impact of improving oral health on pancreatic cancer risk, it can’t hurt. There are treatments available for periodontal disease that can help restore healthy gums.

The research on oral health’s impact on pancreatic cancer is still ongoing. It is unclear how soon we’ll be able to find a concrete connection. Until then, it’s important to do what you can to maintain good oral health and reduce your risk of developing any disease related to dental hygiene.

Ready to Get Started?

At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are committed to providing quality dental care to our patients and their families. We are proud to have been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to call 425-643-5778 today to make an appointment for your initial consultation.

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