At The Center for Dental Anesthesia in Alexandria VA, we stay on top of new discoveries in the exciting field of dentistry and occasionally share interesting facts with our patients. Today’s post focuses on new findings in a compelling field of research: genetic dentistry.
According to Mary L. Marazita, director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh, “About 60% of the risk for tooth decay appears to be due to genetic factors.”
Whoa! Did she say 60%? That’s huge. You might be thinking: “That’s why I brush and floss but still get cavities.” Or, better yet, you might be thinking, “No wonder I have never had a cavity but eat candy often and occasionally go to bed without brushing.”
A recent article on CNN.com highlights tooth decay risk factors that have a genetic link:
- Enamel Strength: Your genes play an important role in the composition of your tooth enamel. Soft enamel is more cavity prone.
- Sugar Cravings: Whether or not you love sugar has a genetic basis. Now you can blame your parents if you pop M&Ms all day. But it still isn’t good for your teeth!
- Chemical Composition of Saliva: Your saliva can protect against cavities – if it properly metabolizes critical minerals and vitamins like calcium, potassium, iron, and Vitamin C. Your genes influence your saliva’s power to prevent decay.
- Immune Response to Bacteria: We don’t like to think about the detrimental bacteria in our mouth but, hopefully, our immune system is ever-vigilant at fighting their constant attempts to cause decay and gum disease. The durability of your immune system is determined, in part, by genetics.
In the next few decades, scientists in the emerging specialty of genetic dentistry may play a critical role in the development of new cavity prevention techniques.
So thank your parents if you have good dental health, and maintain it with regular brushing, flossing, and visits to The Center for Dental Anesthesia in Alexandria VA. Patients from Northern Virgina, Fairfax, and Prince William County come to us for family and restorative dentistry. Contact us today!
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