Make a Payment

Guzaitis Dental Blog

Home » Is There A Possible Link Between Cancer, Heart Disease, and Oral Hygiene?

Is There A Possible Link Between Cancer, Heart Disease, and Oral Hygiene?

Oral health care and hygiene are something you should invest in, especially if you intend to keep your teeth for a lifetime. A regular dental health routine may spare you from gum disease and tooth decay.  Studies have revealed that oral care promotes general health and is instrumental in preventing or lessening the possibility of contracting pancreatic cancer. But what is the connection between these two, one may wonder?

Researchers from Sweden and Finland have established a connection between pancreatic cancer and periodontitis for the first time.

Link Between Cancer Heart Disease and Oral Health

What This Study was About

The University of Helsinki, the Helsinki University Hospital in Finland, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden researchers have been studying the bacteria that cause periodontal disease for quite some time now. This is a condition where patients experience tooth loss because the tissues around their teeth become inflamed. The study has also shown how this bacteria is linked to the onset of cancer. Researchers proved that the primary virulence factor of bacteria Treponema denticola (Td), which is linked to periodontitis, also occurs in malignant tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. These tumors tend to occur in patients who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Enzyme Td-CTLP proteinase activates enzymes used by the cancer cells to attack healthy tissue. It also reduces the immune system’s effectiveness by inactivating molecules that inhibit these bad enzymes.

The experts concluded that the systemic inflammation associated with periodontitis, though low grade, will facilitate the spread of oral bacteria and their virulence to other areas. In the end, it is always advisable to take care of such issues before they become severe. Make sure to address any potential periodontal issues early.

Simple Tips to Protect Yourself from Periodontitis

Dentists have emphasized the need to prioritize oral health for optimal overall health. They have pointed out the relationship between one’s gum health and diseases like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Therefore, it is not surprising to hear that patients with periodontal disease may have a higher risk of contracting pancreatic cancer. The good news is that you do not have to let it get to these life-threatening levels. You can easily prevent periodontitis by observing a few oral health hygiene practices. Some of the things you could do include:

  1. Regular brushing of teeth, at least two times a day
  2. Make sure to floss your teeth daily
  3. Investing in regular dental visits. Make sure to visit your dentist at least once every six months, even when you do not have a concern or pain. Such regular exams can uncover hidden issues that can reverse a potentially fatal or crippling condition
  4. Maintaining excellent nutrition by following a healthy and balanced diet

How Teeth Could Trigger Heart Problems

Besides cancer threats, it has also been said that your oral health or lack thereof can trigger heart diseases. Research shows that people with gum diseases are more likely to suffer from heart disease.

The relationship between one’s oral health and heart health is effected by the spread of bacteria and germs from the mouth to the body through the bloodstream. Once the bacteria gets to the heart, they tend to attach themselves to any weakened area, triggering inflammation. Often a physician will require a patient to have a dental exam for surgery clearance as they are aware of the direct link that dental health has on an individuals overall health.

Other heart conditions that may result from this would be atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke, all of which are caused by some form of inflammation in the heart that may result from oral bacteria infection.

Study Findings on Oral Health and Heart Complications

There is much research in the area of oral health and its connection to disease.  Research has revealed the following:

  • Periodontitis/ gum disease is linked with an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Poor dental health may increase the rate of bacterial infection in the bloodstream, thus leading to issues with the heart valve, especially if you have artificial valves. These valves are easily affected, so extra caution is advised.
  • Tooth loss has been linked to coronary heart disease.
  • Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases have a strong connection which is why diabetic patients benefit from periodontitis treatment.

Who is Likely to be Affected?

When it comes to heart conditions, anyone can be affected. However, the risk of heart disease increases in people with severe periodontal diseases and serious cases of gingivitis. Poor oral hygiene, especially when unmanaged and having undiagnosed conditions, causes a patient to be at higher risk of heart disease. The surprising thing is that the gum disease does not even have to be noticeable for this condition to affect you. Something as simple as accumulated plaque and inadequate oral health can trigger heart disease. Note that the bacterium responsible for this condition gets into the bloodstream and can be spread faster to the rest of the body; hence is likely to affect your heart.. The bacteria in the bloodstream triggers an increased C-reactive protein that is an inflammation marker for the blood vessels. Consequently, this increases the potential for stroke and heart diseases. These are some of the conclusions drawn by experts.

When Things Are Off with Your Oral Health

Knowing when Things are Off

You do not have to wait until things are out of hand to know that you have gum disease. Some of the common symptoms that you need to pay attention to include:

  1. Gums bleeding when eating, flossing, or brushing
  2. Sore, swollen, and red gums that are sensitive to touch
  3. Pus around the gums and other related signs of infection
  4. Frequent bad breath and bad taste in the mouth
  5. An appearance where the gums seem to be pulling away from the teeth
  6. Some teeth appear to be loose or moving away from other teeth

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms call your dentist to schedule an exam.  Remember being proactive what your oral care has many health benefits.


Your focus should be on attaining good dental hygiene and frequent dental exams. Invest in good dental practices like regular cleaning of the teeth and gums, paying attention to symptoms, and finally visiting the dentist regularly, at least twice a year. Your dentist will examine your oral situation and recommend the right preventive measures. What’s more, the dentist is likely to identify any potential problem and advise treatment to get your oral health back on track.

The Bottom Line

Oral health can be linked to several serious complications that can be life-threatening. As a result, it is a good idea to maintain excellent oral health as a way of protecting yourself. Keeping regularly scheduled visits with your dentist can help ensure your best overall health.

Share this Post: