At Chattanooga Center for Comprehensive Dentistry, we stay abreast of new discoveries in the exciting field of dentistry and occasionally share interesting facts with our patients. Today’s post focuses on new findings in a compelling field of research: genetic dentistry.
“About 60% of the risk for tooth decay appears to be due to genetic factors.” Mary L. Marazita, director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.1
Whoa! Did she say 60%? That’s huge. You might be thinking: “That’s why I brush and floss but still get cavities.” Or, better yet, you might be thinking, “No wonder I have never had a cavity but eat candy often and occasionally go to bed without brushing.”
Multiple studies have confirmed that many tooth decay risk factors have a genetic link. Here are some of them:
Your genes play a critical role in the composition of your tooth enamel. Soft enamel is more cavity prone.
Whether or not you love sugar has a genetic basis. Now you can blame your parents if you pop M&Ms all day. (But it still isn’t good for your teeth or waistline!)
Chemical Composition of Saliva
Your saliva can protect against cavities – if it properly metabolizes vital minerals and vitamins like calcium, potassium, iron, and Vitamin C. Your genes affect your saliva’s capacity to prevent decay.
Immune Response to Bacteria
We don’t like to think about the harmful bacteria in our mouth but, hopefully, our immune system is ever-vigilant at fighting their constant attempts to cause decay and gum disease. The durability of your immune system is determined, in part, by genetics.
Genetic Researchers are Working to Develop New Treatments
In the next few decades, scientists in the emerging specialty of genetic dentistry may play an essential role in the development of new cavity-prevention techniques.
Proper Oral Hygiene is Critical–Regardless of Your Genes
The purpose of this article is not to encourage Chattanooga Center for Comprehensive Dentistry patients to be lax about oral hygiene if their parents have strong teeth. Nor to cause those whose teeth decay easily to throw their hands up in despair and resign themselves to a toothless mouth.
Proper oral hygiene is important for all of us, regardless of our genetic predisposition to tooth decay. You have the power to be forward-thinking about your oral health, regardless of the genes you inherited. Whether you have frequent dental check-ups, consistent fluoride intake, effective brushing and flossing techniques, and proper nutrition, is up to you.
If you need a thorough dental exam, an expert dental cleaning, a refresher course on proper brushing and flossing, or want to improve your smile with innovative cosmetic dentistry, call Chattanooga Center for Comprehensive Dentistry at 423-756-1540 to schedule a consultation.
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