Why Boomers’ Lives May Depend On Paying attention To Oral Health and Periodontal Disease

GumsHere is a short true-false quiz: (persistent is defined as two weeks or more)

If you have persistent bad breath it may be a sign of cancer.

If you have periodontal disease, it may contribute to onset of cancer.

You may teach your grandchildren that if they are taking a true-false test and do not know the answer they should guess true, especially if it is a long sentence.  So, yes, the answer to both questions is true.

The bacteria that cause periodontitis, a disease affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth, seems to play a part also in the onset of pancreatic cancer. Two studies reported on the website Science Daily, “Oral health may have an important role in cancer prevention,” January 16, 2018, are at this link.

It seems that good oral health is important to our immune systems.  Bad breath may be a sign of bacteria overwhelming our immune systems.  Persistent bad breath and periodontal disease may be signs of onset of cancer.  The conclusions:

“Researchers have come to the conclusion that a low-grade systemic inflammation related to periodontitis facilitates the spreading of oral bacteria and their virulence factors to other parts of the body. They point out that the prevention and early diagnosis of periodontitis are very important not only for patients’ oral health, but their overall wellbeing.”

These new studies follow many previous studies that show we Boomers should visit the dental hygienist for routine cleanings more often than previously thought.  Our dentist shows us a slide of the billions of bacteria in our mouths, and hands out articles about how important it is for our overall health to maintain good oral health.  He reminds us that just one ten-second French kiss can spread 80 million bacteria between mouths and that Grandpa and I have similar oral bacteria.  So, we Boomers must also promote good oral health in our partners.  Read, “Here’s How Many Bacteria Spread Through One Kiss,” by Mandy Oaklander, Time Magazine, November 17, 2014.

Previously, on the website Science Daily, was a report on a University of Pennsylvania study from June 2014,“Gum disease bacteria selectively disarm immune system, study finds.”

Here is more information from that study that will cause you to go to the dentist quarterly now:

“The human body is comprised of roughly 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. In healthy people, these bacteria are typically harmless and often helpful, keeping disease-causing microbes at bay. But, when disturbances knock these bacterial populations out of balance, illnesses can arise. Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, is one example. . . . “

“Scientists are beginning to suspect that keystone pathogens might be playing a role in irritable bowel disease, colon cancer and other inflammatory diseases,” Hajishengallis said. “They’re bugs that can’t mediate the disease on their own; they need other, normally non-pathogenic bacteria to cause the inflammation.”

As we get longer (we never say older), we have to be concerned about our immune systems. “In most people, muscle health and immune response worsen after we arrive at middle age, with the effects accelerating decade by decade. “ See, “How Exercise Can Keep Aging Muscles and Immune Systems ‘Young’,” by Gretchen Reynolds, in the March 14, 2018 New York Times.

We have to be concerned when bad mouth bacteria spread to our bodies and contribute to or identify breakdown of our immune systems and disease.  What are other diseases that can be detected in the mouth? Here are the most common diseases your dentist might be able to detect as discussed in “10 Shocking Illnesses Dentists Find First,” by Lauren Gelman and Ashley Lewis in Reader’s Digest.

Read the article about the following before your next dentist appointment.

Crohn’s disease


Oral cancer


GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease)

Intense stress



Rheumatoid Arthritis

Heart Disease

So, on the next dental visit, which this Grandma suspects will be sooner rather than later after reading this blog post, ask the questions, “How is my oral health and overall health based on my oral health?” and “Are there any warning signs that I should be concerned about to follow up with a medical doctor?”  Know your body, know early warning signs of disease and be persistent in checking out such signs.

It is important as Boomers to remember consistent and frequent dental care for good oral health, monitoring your immune system and onset of disease, and especially that good oral health may have an important role in cancer prevention.








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