Study Suggests Genetics Plays a Role in Determining Oral Health

Study Suggests Genetics Plays a Role in Determining Oral Health

When it comes to teeth whitening in Erie, our team at Impressions Dental works hard to provide our patients with the tools needed enjoy a brilliantly bright and healthy-looking smile.

A lot of competing factors play a role in determining whether a patient needs to see a cosmetic dentist in order to achieve the smile they desire. Diet, daily oral hygiene routines, and habits like smoking all play an important role. While most of these factors fall firmly in the realm of what patients can control, there is another equally important factor we simply must accept as out of our control – our genetics.

Decades worth of research has found that tooth decay and gum disease play a significant role in determining our risk for a variety of serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Despite this established connection, the role our genetics play in determining our oral health still remains largely unknown. However, new research conducted by a team at the University of Bristol now suggests that hereditary traits could play a role in determining our risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

Understanding the Connection

Tooth decay and gum disease rank as two of the most common issues affecting the world’s health. In the U.S. alone, half of all adults 30 and over have periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, unlike many other well-known diseases, the understanding of whether our genes increase the risk for developing these types of dental disease is still fairly limited.

Family history of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure can help inform doctors about a patient’s risk for developing these types of health problems. However, researchers have had a hard time determining why two different patients can eat the same diet but only one of them develops cavities and gum disease. That is until now.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and other institutions abroad have conducted research that now makes it clear that genes may play a bigger role in determining our individual oral health risk than previous assumed.

In their study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers combined data collected as part of nine international clinical studies that involved over 62,000 participants with data collected from the UK Biobank that included over 461,000 participants. This large pool makes this study the largest ever of its kind. Researchers analyzed the data by scanning millions of strategic points in the human genome to determine which genes were linked to dental diseases.

Researchers successfully identified 47 new genes with connections to tooth decay. The study was also able to confirm a previously known immune-related gene is linked to periodontitis. Among the different genes identified by researchers linked to tooth decay are those that also help the teeth and jaw to form, help the body to produce saliva, and effect how bacteria can cling to our teeth.

Protecting Your Oral Health

Researchers stressed that while the initial findings of their study suggest genetics could help to influence our oral health, daily practices like brushing and flossing play a much larger role.

Patients who may have a genetic predisposition to tooth decay and gum disease can still lower their risk for these diseases by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, eating a balanced diet, and scheduling regular exams and cleanings with our team at Impressions Dental. In fact, it becomes even more important that patients with a genetic predisposition to developing oral problems practice these preventative steps to lower their risk and maintain their oral health.

So if interested in teeth whitening in Erie, remember that a healthy smile isn’t always something we can control. But, thanks to the advanced care provided by our doctors, patients have the ability to continue smiling brightly, no matter what their genes may say.



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