August 30, 2019

What do eye color, hair color, and height all have in common? They’re genetic traits that are passed down in families. For a while, dental professionals have suspected that someone’s level of tooth decay and gum disease is hereditary as well, but a new study from the University of Bristol has confirmed this link. Read on as a dentist in North Port, FL explains the results of this study, and what it means for you.

What Were the Results of the Study?

The research involved scanning the genomes of almost half a million people to identify genes that influenced dental health. 47 new genes relating to tooth decay were found, including those that affect bacteria found on the teeth and those that help form the teeth and jawbone. These genes are passed down from parent to child.

Additionally, previous research has found a correlation between dental decay and cardiovascular diseases, but this study as shown a causal link between the two. By examining genetic sequences of a large sample of people, the researchers were able to find a connection between tooth decay and gum disease and certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, education, and obesity.

What Does This Mean for You?

There is a definite link between the state of your mouth and your general health. When you have tooth decay or gum disease, you have an increased number of bacteria in your mouth. Those bacteria can spread to other parts of your body, like your heart or your brain, and cause infection. Some health issues that have been linked to decay and gum disease include:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Pneumonia
  • Alzheimer’s

How Can I Take Care of My Oral Health?

Follow these steps to prevent decay and gum disease and keep your mouth and body healthy:

  • Floss every single day
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day
  • Quit smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Limit sugary, acidic, and starchy foods and beverages
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Visit your dentist every six months for a regular checkup and cleaning

If you experience tooth decay or gum disease, it may be genetic. However, you can lessen the problem by taking excellent care of your oral health.

About the Author

Dr. Paul Stein obtained his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in 1994 from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. For more than 20 years, he has served patients both as a dentist at Tarpon Shore Dental and as the Dental Director of the Sarasota County Health Department. He is a proud member of the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, the West Coast District Dental Association, and the Sarasota County Dental Association. To learn more about how to fight tooth decay and gum disease, contact Dr. Stein here or at (941) 257-0826.