The definition of cancer: “A malignant and invasive growth or tumor, especially one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites.”

The big “C” is a horrible disease in any form, no matter how big or small, it just plain sucks. But, we are going to focus on the connection between oral health and a very specific cancer: pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is responsible for 40,000 deaths each year in the United States. This disease often escapes early diagnosis, which is the cause for its fatality rate. Poor oral health, such as gum disease, cavities, and gingivitis makeup the bacteria that has been linked to cancer. Many people don’t know that there is a connection between your oral health and how it affects different areas of the body. Studies have shown that bacteria in the mouth may be associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer.

There are two forms of bacteria in the mouth that are associated with the increased risk of getting pancreatic cancer: Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, both a mouthful (pun intended). Those who are carrying both bacteria in their mouth are 50% more likely to contract cancer.

Although studies haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly how oral bacteria damages the pancreas, they have proven that there is an interaction between human cells and other microbial or viral organisms in or around us.

Harmful bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, and studies have shown there is a connection to many other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke. The importance of having good dental habits may do more than keep your smile clean and bright; it may save your life.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is important for many reasons, but knowing the potential that periodontal disease has on your overall health should be reason enough to keep your oral health in check. There are three things that should always be a part of your oral-health routine:

  • Brush – This one should be a no-brainer. Brushing twice a day is mandatory when it comes to oral health. Make sure to (at least) brush in the morning and at night. However, whenever possible, you should brush after meals and especially after consuming anything acidic or full of sugar
  • Floss – Another no-brainer, but is often overlooked. Many people think that because they are diligent brushers that flossing isn’t necessary. Well it is. Make flossing your teeth part of your daily dental routine. By flossing your teeth before you brush you dislodge bacteria-causing-food particles that get stuck between your teeth
  • Dental Visits – Be sure to visit our office regularly, at least every six months. Having a professional keep a watchful eye on your oral health could be the reason you stay healthy. Oral cancer is another sneaky disease that is often caught in the late stages, but with regular visits you can rest easy knowing that you are in good health

Don’t let your oral health be the big-bad wolf that blows your house down. Brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, and come in to see us for regular visits. Contact our office today if you have questions regarding the connection between oral health and how it affects your overall health. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is happy to help.