Oral Bacteria Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

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Oral bacteria linked to pancreatic cancer

      Growing evidence shows that the presence of certain bacteria in the mouth may reveal increased risk for pancreatic cancer, and earlier, more precise treatment.  Pancreatic cancer patients are known to be susceptible to gum disease, cavities, and poor oral health in general, say the study authors. That vulnerability led the research team to search for direct links between the makeup of bacteria driving oral disease and subsequent development of pancreatic cancer.  A disease that is difficult to detect, and kills most patients within six months of diagnosis.  Pancreatic cancer is responsible for 40,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

      According to a recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, men with a history of gum (periodontal) disease could be at increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.  The purpose of the study was to determine if gum disease or tooth loss may be related to pancreatic cancer. After adjusting for age, smoking history, diabetes, obesity, diet and other potential contributors to pancreatic cancer, the reviewers found that men with a history of gum disease had a 64 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer than men without a history of gum disease.

     Nobody knows why gum disease may be linked to pancreatic cancer. Although the study showed an association between gum disease and pancreatic cancer, a definite cause and effect relationship was not established. Researchers speculate that chronic infection in the gums triggers inflammation throughout the body, which can potentially promote the growth of cancer.

    Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth.  It attacks just below the gum line, where it causes the attachment of the tooth and it’s supporting tissues to break down.  Periodontal risk factors include tobacco smoking or chewing, diseases such as diabetes, some medications, dental work that no longer fits properly, defective fillings, pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives.

     Except in most cases, the risk of periodontal disease can be controlled with good dental habits:  brushing and flossing your teeth, and regular visits to your dentist.  So, don’t delay, call your dentist today and schedule an appointment for a check-up!  

     Let us help keep your smile and your health at it’s best!


Your Gentle Dentists,


Dr. Simmons

Your Dental Health and Alzheimer's

Posted by DrSimmons | Filed under , ,

     A new study published in the journal "PLOS One" this spring showed that Alzheimer’s patients with gum disease experienced six times faster mental decline than those with healthy gums.

     Gum disease is prevalent in about half the adult population. And lately more and more research has uncovered just how many different kinds of bacteria grow in our mouths – the count now is up to 500 species. Some of the more devastating ones, like P. gingivalis, travel through the blood to other sites – like the brain – and actually stick themselves to our cells, causing inflammation.

     This is something I’ve been saying since I was in medical school back in 1998. This study further supports the idea that many of the worst diseases, like dementia, stem from infection and inflammation. And although we need more research into gum disease and Alzheimer’s, it could be a real factor in brain health.

    So kill these critters before they travel through your body. Brush and floss daily. Do what I do and use baking soda to brush your teeth because of its high pH. This helps neutralize acids (lower pH) in your mouth, removes bacteria, and strengthens tooth enamel.

Your Gentle Dentists,

Dr. Simmons


Your Dental Breath

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     Lots of patients share a concern about bad breath.  We've all found ourselves chatting with someone whose breath could knock us over.  However there are simple tips to fix this problem.
     Bad breath strikes when people aren't properly taking care of their oral health.  The odor is usually caused by food particles and bacteria in your mouth.  That's why brushing and flossing your teeth is so important,but don't forget to brush your tongue to get rid of even more bacteria.
    Gum disease is the first dental problem we suspect when it comes to halitosis.  A periodontal check up during your regular dental visit gives us a chance to control gum problems as a source of bad breath.
    A clean tongue goes a long way to warding off bad breath.  The tongue is like a "shaggy carpet".  There are millions of filaments on your tongue that trap particles and bacteria.  Regularly cleaning your tongue using a toothbrush and/or tongue scraper will help remove the bacteria.  If you have any mouth guards or oral appliances, make sure to clean them thoroughly before putting them in your mouth.
    Mouthwash is only a temporary fix.  It masks the odor instead of correcting the source of the problem.
    Believe it or not saliva is your best weapon against bad breath.  That's why dry mouth, often caused by certain medical conditions, leads to odor problems.  Saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria.  The term "morning breath"  is because saliva production slows while you sleep allowing particles and odor to linger longer.                  
     Sugarless chewing gum is a natural odor fighter!!  Chewing gum stimulates saliva production.  Mints, do not stimulate saliva, but temporarily mask bad odors.  .Gum makes you salivate and the more saliva in your mouth the fewer bacteria you have.  Saliva contains enzymes and natural antiseptics that kill bacteria.  While anything that makes you salivate will improve your breath, a gum that is sweetened with xylitol is your best defense.  Xylitol is a sugar substitute that not only increases salivation, but also works to prevent bacteria from developing in your mouth.  Make sure Xylitol is the first ingredient to be most effective.  But most important is having regular cleanings every 3-6 months, and dental examinations to catch and prevent halitosis.

 Your Gentle Dentists - Dr. Simmons