Is Tooth Decay Genetic?

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When it comes to the concept of genetic disposition to conditions, the jury’s still out on how important it is in regards to your oral health. Some studies have suggested that tooth decay can be the result of a combination of factors, including genetics and dental hygiene habits. There are a few reasons why genetics can influence your oral health. Here’s a deeper look at them.

smiley mother and dautherIt is estimated that about 60% of the risk for the incidence of tooth decay is due to genetic factors. Scientists studying the very new field of genetic dentistry have identified areas in which they believe genes play a role in tooth decay. Your saliva plays a big part in protecting your teeth from acids and scientists have identified gene variants that make some people capable of producing stronger saliva than others.

Certain genetic variations may also be linked to higher rates of tooth decay and aggressive periodontitis. Studies found that the rate of cavities was influenced by individual variations, or polymorphisms, in a gene called beta defensin 1(DEFB1), which plays an important role in the immune response against invading germs.

It has also been discovered that the bacteria responsible for producing acids in the mouth that cause tooth decay, called Streptococcus mutans, have a hereditary aspect to them, as well. Although babies are not born with the bacteria present in their mouths, studies have shown that children have the exact same genetic form of Streptococcus Mutans on their teeth that their parents have.

While studies in this field continue to advance and new ways to combat tooth decay in adults and children come into existence, it’s still important to fight cavities by brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. If you or your child is especially prone to cavities, talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments and dental sealants as well as dietary changes you can make to protect your oral health.

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