There is a lot about each and every one of us that can be attributed to our genetic makeup. Hair color, eye color, personality, and health are all heavily, if not entirely, influenced by the families we come from. It stands to reason then that the same goes for our oral health. The truth is that while taking care of your teeth and gums is the most important influence on dental health, some of us will be more predisposed to problems such as cavities and gum disease than others.
Millions of Americans are exceptionally susceptible to tooth decay, and science is discovering the reasons why. According to researchers, as much as 60 percent of our risk for tooth decay is based on genetic factors. To break it down, there are five areas in particular where our genes can really make an impact:
Sweet Tooth – Did you know that your sweet tooth may be hereditary? Scientists have actually found gene variants that dictate to what degree we prefer sweets. Not surprisingly, those who favor sweets more strongly are also the ones who typically encounter more dental trouble.
Enamel – The strength of tooth enamel varies from one person to the next, based on our genetic makeup. Some will have softer enamel than others. Naturally, this increases the rate and occurrence of tooth decay.
Taste Test – Believe it or not, we can’t all taste the same things. Some people have a wide range of taste variations and the ability to enjoy a larger array of flavors. While on the other hand, there are those whose tastes are far more limited. While the reasons are not exactly clear, science has shown that those with a greater range of taste will also be more resilient to dental problems.
Bacteria – We all have bacteria in our mouths. Communities of them can be found on our tongues, gums, and surface of the teeth. Brushing and flossing help keep this bacteria in check. However, our own immune response is largely responsible for how and to what degree these bacteria affect our oral health, and that response is determined by genetics.
Yes, your gene pool makes a difference in your dental health and propensity for tooth decay. However, regardless of what happened to mom or dad, there is a lot you can do to keep problems at bay. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings will help prevent cavities, gum disease, and other dental concerns, regardless of genetics. Some may have to be more vigilant than others, but with the right tools, we can all have healthy, beautiful teeth.
If you are in the Thibodaux area, contact Dr. Sheard Ber, and request your next dental exam.