Blame Your Genes for Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Genes for Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Healthy teeth and gums are important for maintaining your overall health, and it all begins with good oral hygiene habits. But if you’re genetically predisposed to tooth decay or gum disease, you have a higher risk of developing oral health problems, regardless of how well you brush and floss. Even if you have the genetic markers for periodontal disease, though, there are still things you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy and prevent existing conditions from getting worse.

A Genetic Predisposition to Tooth Decay

When bacteria collects on your teeth, it forms a sticky film called plaque, which generates acid that can break down your tooth enamel. This damage leads to cavities. If left untreated, cavities can grow to affect deeper layers of your teeth and gums.

Cavities often develop as a result of poor oral hygiene, but there are people who are more susceptible to tooth decay because of the way their bodies respond to bacteria. In a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, researchers evaluated over 300 saliva samples and found that people with a G-20A variant of the beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) gene had a significantly higher rate of decayed teeth, fillings, and missing teeth. Scientists theorize that people with this variation of DEFB1 have a harder time fighting off plaque-causing bacteria that colonize on the teeth and form cavities.

Chronic and Aggressive Periodontal Disease Runs in Families

According to the European Federation of Periodontology, genetics is also a risk factor for developing both chronic periodontitis and aggressive periodontitis. Chronic periodontal disease is characterized by persistent inflammation of the gum tissue, usually in older adults.  Aggressive periodontal disease involves rapid deterioration of the bone around the teeth, usually at a relatively young age.

While research is ongoing to determine the exact genetic basis of gum disease, scientists have identified 38 genes associated with the increased risk of developing periodontitis. One in particular, the FAM5C gene, has been linked to aggressive periodontal disease. FAM5C has also been implicated in cardiovascular disease; the common factor connecting both conditions may be general inflammation in the body.

Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums

If you suspect you may be genetically predisposed to gum disease, genetic tests are available to determine your potential risk. Learning this information can help to identify early intervention strategies that will keep your teeth and gums healthy for years to come. Even if you are susceptible to oral health problems, there are some things you can do to prevent serious complications. For example:

1. Always Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing are important for everyone, but they’re particularly crucial for those with elevated risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

2. Visit Your Dentist for Regular Cleanings and Check-ups

Staying on top of your dental exams can help your care providers discover and diagnose potential problems before they get out of control.

3. Quit Smoking

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for the development and progression of periodontitis

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

Research has linked obesity to periodontal disease, and a diet lacking in nutrients can make it hard for your immune system to fight off the bacteria that causes both tooth decay and gum infection.

5. Get a Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation

A periodontist who specializes in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease can examine your teeth, gums, and bone structure to pinpoint areas of concern and help you establish an appropriate oral care routine.

Treat & Prevent Gum Disease at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

If You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of Gum Disease, San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry Can Give You the Treatment You Need to Improve Your Oral Health. We Treat All Periodontal Disease Stages, From the Early Phases of Gingivitis to Advanced Periodontitis. With Comprehensive Treatment and Diligent Oral Hygiene Habits, Dr. Kwok Can Help You Recover From Gum Disease and Maintain Great Dental Health for Years to Come.
To Schedule a Consultation With Dr. Kwok, Call Our Office at (619) 543-0905.

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