Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer: Is There A Connection?

by | Jan 7, 2023 | Blog Posts

Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer Is There A Connection

There is now an even more important reason to take special care of your oral health. A 2016 study found that there is a connection between gum disease and pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer affects over 50,000 people a year.[1] High levels of oral bacteria that are known to lead to gum disease also increase your risk of getting this type of cancer. Bacteria and nitrosamines in people with periodontal disease are carcinogens that contribute to cancer.

How Overall Health Is Impacted by Oral Health and Hygiene

There is always a plethora of bacteria in your mouth, whether you have gum disease or not. However, some of that bacteria can cause diseases when it enters your bloodstream and digestive or respiratory tracts.

Most bacteria are relatively harmless and can be controlled through good oral hygiene, such as twice daily brushing and flossing. However, too much of that bacteria can result in an infection of your mouth. This infection can then lead to inflammation of your gums, advance to severe periodontal disease or even lead to tooth loss.

How To Identify Gum Disease

Early-stage gum disease is also known as gingivitis. It’s an inflammation of the gums around your teeth. It’s caused by plaque build-up on your teeth due to poor oral hygiene habits.

Signs of gingivitis include swollen red gums that bleed easily with brushing.

When gingivitis progresses, it can lead to advanced-stage gum disease called periodontitis. The plaque build-up turns to tartar, which cannot be removed by brushing alone. At this stage, the infection damages the soft tissue supporting your teeth and creates pockets in your gums. This can lead to the tooth or teeth requiring extraction or another periodontal treatment.

The symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Bright red or purple gums
  • Puffy gums that bleed easily
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Gaps developing between your teeth
  • Receding gums
  • A change in your bite patterns
  • Pain when chewing
  • Loose teeth

Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer: The Medical Link

It has been revealed in medical studies that your risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases if you have gum disease. The bacteria that causes gingivitis and periodontitis is one of the most harmful types of oral bacteria and has been found to precede pancreatic cancer rather than develop after the cancer is discovered. Lowering the bacterial load in your mouth is key to your overall health including preventing pancreatic cancer.

Take Preventative Measures Against Gum Disease

Preventative care is vital to your overall health and wellness. It can also prevent gum diseases like gingivitis and advanced-stage periodontal disease.

Preventative measures you can take to keep yourself protected against gum disease include healthy eating habits such as avoiding dairy, proper oral hygiene such as twice-daily flossing and brushing, routine dental visits, and preventative dentistry services like X-Rays, fluoride treatments, and sealants.

If restorative dental care is needed, common procedures recommended for people with gum disease that lead to tooth loss include dental implants and implant-supported dentures.

See Empire Dental Care and Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease has the potential to impact so much more than your oral health. That’s why preventative dental care is critical to protect yourself from the harmless bacteria in your mouth that can lead to gum disease and pancreatic cancer.

The health of your teeth and gums matters, so schedule your next routine cleaning with us at Empire Dental Care in Webster, New York. Let us help you develop good habits that keep your smile happy and your body healthy for years to come! Call us at 585-671-1650.





Dr. Cohen has been practicing dentistry in private and public settings for over 10 years, completing her DMD degree in 2010 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Committed to providing dental care of the highest level, Dr. Cohen relocated to Rochester in 2016 to pursue advanced dental trainings at the Dental Urgent Care Fellowship at The University of Rochester, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, graduating in 2017, and the AEGD Residency program in 2019. She recently completed an additional advanced General Practice Residency program at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany NY. This summer she moved back to Rochester with her husband Kevin, a native Rochesterian, to be closer to family. Throughout her career and personal life, Dr. Cohen has shown her genuine compassion and care to people and patients from all walks of life. She volunteered in underserved areas, practiced in clinics for patients with complex special needs, and treated medically compromised patients among others. She also taught and mentored other dentists and students helping them achieve their professional and personal goals. Most of all, Dr. Cohen’s warm personality and love of people create a welcoming, comfortable feeling for both patients and staff.