Bad Teeth? Blame Your Parents!
If you have fair skin and a trip to the dermatologist usually results in the doc running out of liquid nitrogen, you probably know someone else who has gotten more sun than the Sphinx yet never even has any sun spots.
The same is true of your teeth. Some people have a cavity in just about every molar, while others have few despite eating more sweets than Willy Wonka.
What gives? Genes.
Scientists now understand that healthy teeth depend on a combination of genetics and dental hygiene (including twice yearly trips to see the team at Kalil & Kress!). It appears that about 60 percent of the risk of tooth decay is due to genetic factors. These show themselves in individual genes that can be found in the saliva and also that dictate certain immune responses such as the individual propensity to not have gum disease.
Scientists say five areas are impacted by your genes.
Preference for sweets
Scientists have identified gene variants that show a range of “sweet preference.” The stronger your genetic “sweet preference,” the better chance you’ll have tooth decay one day.
Your tooth enamel
The enamel is the protector of your teeth. Some people, much to their chagrin, have softer enamel than others, making it easier for bacteria to get through to the interior of the tooth, i.e. decay. Genes are the primary determinant of your enamel structure.
“Taste ability” is a measure of the variety of things you are able to taste. This is a complex process that includes your tongue and is linked with your sense of smell. Studies show that the greater your “taste ability” profile, the less likely you are to develop tooth decay. Why this is the case is still a mystery under further study.
Elements such as calcium and potassium are critical to healthy, strong teeth. These elements must be properly broken down by your saliva for your teeth to use them.
Your body has communities of different bacteria. In your mouth alone, there are communities on your tongue, on the surfaces of your teeth, and below the gum line. How your body manages or responds to these bacteria affects your tendency toward tooth decay.
So there’s 60 percent of your risk for tooth decay — all thanks to Mom and Dad. But for the other 40 percent, that’s up to you. Your dental hygiene and your propensity to love soft drinks (they are the number one environmental factor that encourages tooth decay) all play a role in whether you get cavities or not.
And, of course, your propensity or not to visit Kalil & Kress for your twice-yearly exams and professional cleanings plays a starring role. Due for your next appointment? Call us, 603-880-7004.