When you are looking to pass the blame at your next dental appointment, you may be on to something.
There are some people who don’t brush or floss and never seem to have any dental issues beyond having bad breath. There are others who truly work at their oral health constantly.
These types attend regularly scheduled cleanings and exams, brush their teeth after every meal and snack, use floss picks in their car, and burn through electric toothbrushes faster than Elizabeth Taylor went through husbands. Yet, they are the ones that still end up with cavities. Is there a reason for this, aside from fate being cruel? Is it possible that your dental woes really aren’t your fault after all?
You’ve probably been told that if your overall health is generally good and you take care of your teeth and gums, you will have good teeth. But we’re starting to learn that this isn’t always the case. There’s a whole host of medical conditions and medications that can contribute to poor oral health. Setting those aside, why would someone get gum disease and decay for no obvious reason when they’re doing all the right things?
The answer to that question is genetics. Yes, you can blame your parents for your bad teeth too. The first part of the genetic equation is the shape and size of your jaw. Sometimes, we win the genetic lottery, a beautiful set of eyes or gorgeous, full lips. Other times, Grandma gives us her narrow jaw and crowded teeth that collect debris and are hard to clean between. Moreover, genetics is responsible for the overall strength of your enamel and the amount of saliva you create. So ultimately genetics does come into play because those characteristics are essential for healthy teeth and gums.
Fingerprints in Your Mouth
Recent studies have also proven that the bacteria in your mouth is like a fingerprint. In fact, none of us has exactly the same bacterial combination. What’s even more interesting is that the bacteria in your mouth can be determined by race. So simply being born with a specific genealogical background can mean that you will have plentiful “good” bacteria that helps fight decay or more “bad” bacteria that makes you prone to tooth decay. Genetic mutations are still being explored in the scientific community as well. It was discovered over a decade ago that a lack of the enzyme cathepsin C, caused by a gene mutation, resulted in gum disease.
There are multiple reasons beyond what we have discussed here as to how genetics can be responsible for your oral health. In time, future research may provide all of the answers for us. We may learn how to prevent decay across the board or how to alter our genes so future generations will have optimal oral health. Only time will tell. But for now, the only things we can control our our dental hygiene habits. Brushing, flossing, a healthy diet, sleep, and regular check-ups can help you make the most of what your ancestors have given you. Thank goodness you have Mom’s sparkling eyes to counter Grandma’s teeth.
This article is provided on behalf of Phoenix dentist Dr. Arthur Chal, www.chaldentistry.com