September 5, 2017
You may have your mother’s smile, or your father’s dimples. But, did you develop gum disease because of your family’s genetic makeup? In recent studies from University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, researchers have found a link between tooth decay, advanced gum disease (periodontal disease), and genetics. Let’s explore this study as well as what we can do to prevent gum disease despite the genes that run through your family tree.
Is gum disease hereditary or is it from horrible hygiene?
According to the study’s senior of both research papers, Dr. Alexandre Vieira, the rate of cavities can be influenced by a patient’s genetic variations in a specific gene called beta defensin 1 (DEFB1), which is critical in defending your smile against dental bacteria and debris. If your family happens to be more DEFB1 deficient, you may just become more susceptible to tooth decay, cavities, and ultimately tooth loss (leading to gum health issues).
This isn’t the only way that a patient can develop dental problems that stumble upon the path of predental disease. Letting your oral hygiene fall to the wayside is also another way that gum disease develops from mild gingivitis to aggressive periodontal disease, putting your health at risk for much more serious problems.
What is gum disease?
Just like cavities or tooth decay, gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection. Each day, dental bacteria sticks to the surface of your teeth in a sticky film known as plaque. The more sugary, carb-infused foods and drinks we consume, that dental plaque becomes acidic and break down the protective layer of your teeth: the enamel. If the infection isn’t addressed, the disease can spread all the way down into the inside of your teeth, tissues, and gums.
Here are the common symptoms of gum disease:
- Red, swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Buildup of pus between gums
- Loose fitting teeth
- Receding gums
- Pockets of infection along your gum line
- Chronic bad breath
Am I a high-risk patient for gum disease?
Some people are more likely to develop dental decay and gum disease than others. Here are a few factors that may make you a high-risk patient:
- The structure of your enamel proteins may be weaker than the norm.
- The quality and quantity of your salvia may be affecting your defense system against dental problems.
- Your immune defense mechanisms against bacteria may be weakened.
- Your family may have a history of a deficient DEFB1 genes.
- You’re diabetic or your family has a history of diabetes.
- You’re a tobacco user.
- You’re an avid alcohol abuser.
What can I do if I am a high-risk patient?
The best way to protect yourself against gum disease is to practice excellent dental care—no matter your genetic makeup or any other varying factors. Brushing your teeth and flossing is the best way to remove dental bacteria besides visiting your local dentist.
Do you already have signs of gum disease? Get the help you need from a local dentist before your issue develops and causes more trouble down the road.
Meet Your Local Dentist
Dr. Warren G. Hoffman has over 30 years of experience as a general dentist. With 3 decades of experience, he has helped countless patients overcome their gum disease hurdles and restore optimal oral health. Ask our office about how periodontal therapy can help you revitalize your gums and ultimately get your oral health back on track by calling (941) 877-6966.