Genes and Dental Health

One of the biggest factors that affect our physical and mental health is genetics. Other people can get away with getting professional cleaning once or twice a year and have no repercussions while other people have to get their teeth cleaned more frequently. Sometimes, even with great dental hygiene, some people still get cavities or sensitivity problems. This is most likely due to genes – according to dentists and scientists.

The truth regarding tooth decay

Tooth decay – though it sounds a bit melodramatic – is the most common chronic disease in the world. According to a study published in 2013 in the Journal of Dental Research in London, billions of people all over the world are afflicted with one form or another of dental problems. The study, which first started in 2010, estimated that almost 4 million people were affected by dental caries.

Tooth decay is dangerous because it affects the most commonly used part of the human body – the mouth. Having tooth problems can affect a person’s food intake, and even disturb his or her sleep because of the pain. For something that can be prevented, the repercussions of tooth decay are quite dire.

Genetically predisposed for “bad teeth”

Dentists have found out that both genes and personal dental hygiene equally affect dental health. Common knowledge has it that people who do not practice adequate dental hygiene and eat a lot of sweets (sugary food) are prone to cavities. However, there are members of the population who brush frequently and floss regularly, but still have tooth problems.

According to a director at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Dental Medicine (Mary Marazita), almost 60 percent of the risk of tooth decay can be attributed to genes. While genetic dentistry still has a long way to go in terms of research, here are several important points that the concept raises:

  • Preference to sweets is genetically linked; with children raised in similar to identical environments having very different sweet preferences.

  • The density of tooth enamel is primarily determined by genetics. People with softer tooth enamel are more prone to developing cavities.

  • Taste ability has also been linked to a certain gene that allows a person to detect a variety of tastes. People with this gene variant are less likely to develop tooth decay.

  • Genes also affect “saliva strength”, or the concentration of certain elements in saliva. Saliva helps break down the components in food, especially sugar.

  • Even bacteria colonies (normal flora) in the mouth are affected by genes. The immune response to different kinds of bacteria (which can cause tooth decay) are likewise affected by genes.

Since genes make up 60% of the risk for tooth decay, the last 40% can be attributed to personal hygiene and diet. Environmental factors such as food choice, regular brushing, smoking, access to dental case, and many more affect the way we treat our teeth and resulting dental hygiene. For a consult regarding your dental health, contact us at Greenspoint Dental to set up a meeting with any of highly qualified dental hygienists.