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Periodontal disease is common and unpleasant ranging from its earliest form of ginigivitis all the way to advanced periodontitis. According to ever mounting evidence, it could also play a role in a whole host of seemingly unrelated health problems.Periodontal Disease is a slow, progressive disease that has the capability to destroy our oral and systemic health. Many of the underlying symptoms of periodontal disease take time to manifest themselves and are often ignored. It is important to recognize these signs and symptoms as periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults. Periodontal disease shows itself in many different forms including aggressive, chronic, necrotizing periodontitis, and periodontitis associated with systemic diseases. Each type of periodontal disease has its own set of characteristics and symptoms, and all require prompt, individualized treatment by your dentist to help slow the progression and hopefully halt the subsequent bone and gum tissue loss. Risk of periodontal disease increases with age. For younger people, dental caries are a more important risk for tooth loss, while for older people, periodontal disease is the more important risk factor. Studies have shown that over 70% of all Americans aged 65 and older have some form of periodontal disease.

The underlying mechanisms behind periodontal disease progression are relatively well understood, and newer research shows that this health problem may play a role in the development of a number of other conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and respiratory disease.

Periodontal Disease And Effects On The Brain

Neurological conditions and periodontal disease are not normally associated together even though they are in close proximity to one another. Recent scientific research has found a link between periodontal disease (and associated tooth loss) with cognitive function. These researchers found that the risk of cognitive decline in older men increases as more teeth are lost. So therefore they concluded that periodontal disease is related to cognitive decline. The research also linked periodontal disease with an increased build up of beta amyloid in the brain. If you are unaware this is the neurological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Similar studies have also found evidence that one type of bacteria found in advanced periodontitis can also be found inside the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Heart Disease Linked To Periodontal Disease?

This area is not 100% linked but correlations can be made between the two. The two diseases share risk factors such as alcohol abuse and using tobacco products. It is believed the 2 diseases are inter related thru inflammation. Inflammation is the bodies protective response to an irritant or pathogen. If left unchecked it can lead to damage to tissues and organs. There are two thoughts on this. One is that the inflammation in the oral cavity ultimately sparks inflammation in the cardiovascular system. The other is that the bacteria related to periodontal disease is also related to heart disease. Bacteria in the gum tissues can enter the blood supply and reach distant destinationsin the body, including the heart, where they can cause inflammation and damage. Researchers have shown evidence that this is possible. Researchers have shown that P. gingivalis (a gram-negative oral anaerobe and considered as a main etiological factor in periodontal diseases) is the most commonly found bacterial species in the coronary artery.

Increased Cancer Risk

Periodontal disease has been found to be associated with a small, but significant, increase in overall cancer risk. Studies have also found a strong link between periodontal disease and overall cancer risk. The link was also significant between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer.

Conclusion

While we are learning new things about the links in our body every day, we need to follow what our doctors and dentists tell us to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Pancreatic cancer is a malignancy, originating from transformed cells in tissues forming the pancreas.  Pancreatic cancer is ranked #4 amongst  cancer related deaths today. Difficulty in detection, leads to diagnosis in later stages, resulting in a low cure rate. Pancreatic cancer is responsible for about 40,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. Early diagnosis is key to reducing the mortality rate of pancreatic cancer.  How can your dentist help?

Recent research has uncovered a link between various oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer risk. The research showed that people with high levels of various oral bacteria had double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Those with lowered levels of harmless oral bacteria had a reduced risk for pancreatic cancer. This is another piece of evidence showing linkage between the mouth and your general health.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer

-Family History/Genetics.  Between 5–10% of patients with pancreatic cancer have a family history of pancreatic cancer. The genes have not been identified.

-Age. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most cases occur after age 60, while cases before age 40 are uncommon.

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Marielaina Perrone DDS

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

-Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases your chances of developing pancreatic cancer by a factor of almost 2x normal.

-Diet. People with poor diets are at an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer. The factors include diets high in red meat, high consumption of sugary drinks, and lacking fruits and vegetables in diet.

-Obesity.

-Diabetes Mellitus.

-Periodontal Disease.

What Did the Study Show regarding Pancreatic Cancer and the Mouth?

The study (published in the journal, Gut) encompassed blood samples from over 800 European adults. The study found that high antibody levels for one or more infectious periodontal bacterium strains of  Porphyromonas gingivalis (bacteria common in periodontal disease ), were associated with a doubling of the risk for pancreatic cancer.

This is a significant finding.

There have been studies in the past, linking  periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer. The Gut research paper is the first to test whether antibodies for oral bacteria are indicators of pancreatic cancer risk. This was also the first study to associate our body’s immune response to commonly found bacteria, with pancreatic cancer risk. The physiological mechanism linking oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer is unclear at this time. The study just reinforces the theory that there is such a mechanism. So while we should not rush out and call this a risk factor it does deserve further study.

Conclusion

Ultimately, further research is needed but it further strengthens the theory that oral health is very important to a person’s overall health and a dentist plays a key role as well. So maintain a healthy mouth through regular dental examinations and professional cleanings, and in turn, you will probably stay a step ahead in your overall health.