When I tell patients that they have an area of decay or even a diagnosis of gum disease, they sometimes will say “Well, I got that from my parents and it's in the family”. There is indeed a bit of truth to that comment regarding gum disease. Fragile and weak gum tissue can be inherited to an extent.
Recently, a study was done to determine whether or not decay could also be inherited. It is possible to have a tendency to have weak or thin enamel, but when the bacteria factor was looked into, which really causes tooth decay, it was determined that “external factors play a larger role in tooth decay than genes”.
Researchers reporting in the journal Cell Host and Microbes examined the role genes, environment and an individual’s oral microbiology have in determining one’s fate in the dental chair. They found that genetic factors really do not come into play when it comes to the bacteria associated with cavities. Their results were pretty basic. “Bacteria associated with cavities, like Streptococcus mutans, were in higher abundance in the kids that consumed more sugar.”
It was interesting to note that microbes inherited from Mom and Dad decreased as children age. In comparison, microbes from the environment increased with age.
It all comes down to the following points about decay:
And as much as we'd like to blame someone else:
Remember, regular dental cleanings and checkups will help curb decay and allow us to address small problems before they become large ones. Preventive care is essential and that is why it is a top priority for our patients.Copyright © Richard Bienenfeld, DDS. PS.