The Connection Between Plaque and Types of Cancer

The Connection Between Plaque and Types of Cancer

In several blog posts before, there was mention about the nature of the P. gingivalis, our mouth biome and its connection to various inflammatory diseases. This connection between plaque and how it affects our systemic health is a relatively recent discovery. Thanks to the growing field of microbiology, we are learning just how the smallest of lifeforms can affect our overall health.  This still leaves an unanswered question. How do all these things tie into the most severe of consequences, oral cancer? Is there a connection between inflammatory diseases and cancer? Is location alone enough to cause oral cancer? How many types of cancer are there? Let’s find out.

Periodontal Disease and the Risk of Cancer

Before we find out how if there is a connection between periodontal disease and oral cancers, we first need to know what type of cancers are relevant. Not all cancers are structurally the same. In fact, with structure and location are taken into account, there are over 7,000 types of cancer in existence. That is the main reason why it is so hard to cure cancers.

Thankfully, there is some help thanks consistent research data trends. In several different studies, there is correlating data between people with severe periodontitis and the risk of cancer.  In June 2008, Lancet Oncology published their findings regarding the risk of cancer and its connection to periodontal disease. The study was based on data from more than 48,000 American men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. This study was specifically a group of men ranging from ages 40 to 75. What they found, once they adjusted risk from other factors like smoking and heavy drinking, was that men with severe periodontal disease have a 14% increase in risk for types of cancer.

This is further confirmed by a more specified study by doctors in Helinski, Finland in collaboration with Institutes in Sweden. Their research has shown that bacteria that was specifically to blame for severe periodontal disease might also be able to cause certain types of cancer — specifically pancreatic cancer.

But the interesting thing is unlike other chronic diseases, the bacteria that it has in common is not P. gingivalis.

Treponema denticola

Treponema denticola is another gram-negative bacteria than is also found in dental plaque. The organism itself is anaerobic, meaning that it can survive in areas without oxygen. Unlike P. gingivalis, it is not round or clustered. Instead it is spiral shaped and does more than just simply exist on plaque and dig into the bloodstream.

“Among periodontal anaerobic pathogens, the oral spirochetes, and especially Treponema denticola (Td), have been associated with periodontal diseases such as early-onset periodontitis, necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, and acute pericoronitis.” Basically, this bacteria is more likely to appear in more severe forms of gum disease. Including the stage when gum tissue and bone literally starts dying and rotting away.

This type of bacteria, just like P. gingivalis, shares a location with other infected areas. However, instead of the liver, heart or circulatory system, it is found in the pancreas. Specifically, when someone is suffering from pancreatic cancer.

But what does it do? How does pancreatic cancer development and what is the connection?

Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is an organ part of the digestive system. Its location is underneath the liver shares a connection between the liver to the small intestine.  The main role of the pancreas is to regulate hormones, insulin and balance blood sugar levels. When cancer forms in the pancreas, it usually appears in the cells that line the pancreatic duct.

So, what does this condition have to do with gum disease?

Biofilm or any other ecosystem of bacteria does not have only one type of bacteria. That is far too simplistic. In fact, most bacteria can feed or pave the way for more advanced forms of bacteria if a colony survives long enough. Our mouths when bacterial colonies grow, form small pockets.  If the environment lasts long enough, those pockets expand into tumors.

Tumors are the perfect breeding ground for this type of bacteria.  The research confirms it. “This enzyme (TD), which exists in certain cancerous tumors, is also in the mouth and acts as the main “boosting” agent in the development of gum disease.”


A bacteria that travels from the mouth and through the digestive system is responsible or at the very least a connection between gum disease and cancer. This is a connection that people should not brush aside. This is why it is important to keep up your oral hygiene.

If you need a dentist in the Tarzana, California area, then schedule a consultation at

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