Cancer and Periodontal Disease

According to a new study in the British Journal of Cancer, the bacteria Treponema denticola (Td) has been linked to pancreatic cancer.

Treponema denticola (Td) is a bacterium commonly found in the oral tissue of patients with severe periodontitis. The discovery was made by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Researchers discovered that not only was the bacteria present in pancreatic tumors called orodigestive tumors, but it may also be responsible for causing those tumors.

Dr. Alexandra George of Wexford, Pennsylvania, says although the connection between the tumors and the Td bacteria is not yet fully explained, the findings of the University of Helsinki study are just one more reason to stay on top of your oral health.

“This study is just one more in a growing list of conditions that are either caused by or contributed to by periodontal disease,” she says.

Other cancers linked to periodontal disease include white blood cell cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and kidney cancer.

“We may not know the reasons behind the connection between oral bacteria and these cancers, but the connection is undeniable,” says George. “Which also means that maintaining excellent oral health is paramount to your overall health.”

This means brushing your teeth every day, at least twice a day (ideally after each meal), and flossing at least once a day, preferably before bed.

“Brushing of course is crucial, but flossing plays a key role in reducing your risk of periodontal disease,” says George. “Floss gets between the teeth and removes the harmful plaque and bacteria responsible for cavities and more serious conditions like periodontal disease from along the gum line. And that’s the key to preventing periodontal disease.”

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on February 8th, 2018