When it comes to diseases, most people are aware that genetics can play a large role. That’s why your doctor will often ask you if you have a history of heart disease or cancer in your family. But what about genetics in dental health? While researchers are still exploring this relatively new area of study, they have concluded that, yes, there are links between genetics and tooth decay and other dental diseases. However, since genetic tests don’t yet exist for determining this genetic susceptibility, it is important to maintain regular dental hygiene to mitigate any oral health risks.
What Role is Played by Genetics in Dental Health?
A few years ago, a group of international researchers carried out the largest study yet conducted in order to determine the link between genetics and oral health risks. The study, which involved over 500,000 participants, confirmed what many people already suspected: there is indeed a link between genetics and dental health. Researchers were able to identify 47 areas of the human genome that were linked to tooth decay. Some of these links were already known, while others were newly discovered and offer plenty of room for further study.
In addition, certain more specific dental conditions are affected by genetics. These include amelogenesis imperfecta, in which the enamel on a person’s teeth is defective or missing, and hypodontia, in which people are missing a certain number of teeth which never develop.
How to Protect Yourself from Oral Health Risks
Although there are currently no tests that can determine whether you are at genetic risk for tooth decay or gum disease, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself against oral health risks. In addition to genetic factors, periodontal disease is believed to be caused by a combination of factors, including environmental factors and the patient’s overall health.
Maintaining good dental health is the easiest thing you can do to prevent oral disease. Daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular cleanings at the dentist, can go a long way towards protecting your teeth. In addition, maintaining good general health, including exercise, a healthy diet, and not smoking will also help protect you from oral health risks.
Take Charge of Your Dental Health
When it comes to the question of genetics in dental health, there is still much to learn. While researchers continue to work on these questions, it’s important to take the necessary steps to prevent gum disease and tooth decay, whatever your genetic susceptibility to dental maladies may be.
If you have any questions about the role genetics plays in dental health or about how to protect your teeth and gums, feel free to give us a call at Temple Dentistry. Give us a ring today at (610) 929-4252 or fill out the form below to learn more.
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