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animated tooth decay

Genetics and Tooth Decay: Are They Related?

December 6, 2019

Have you ever heard anyone blame, or give credit to, their parents for their teeth? These researchers had, and they wanted to take a closer look into how genetics impact our dental health. To do so, they studied two identical twins with the same DNA to see if their dental health was also the same. The conclusion? Genetics and oral health are not as connected as one might think.

The researchers found that the identical twins had differing amounts of tooth decay, meaning that “environmental factors, like a lack of fluoride in water, seem to be the prime cause of cavities — not genetic makeup."

Fortunately, this research team walked away from the study with key conclusions. Researchers found a link between a mother's health and lifestyle during pregnancy and her child's future dental health.

Genetics Don’t Impact Baby’s Oral Health, But Mom’s Oral Health Will

Bad bacteria known as cariogenic bacteria is the kind of bacteria in the mouth that leads to disease. It can lead to gum disease, cavities, and poor oral health, as well as poor overall health, if it’s not removed. For pregnant mothers, it’s especially important to understand how oral health impacts pregnancy. Children can have an increased risk of developing cavities if mom had poor oral health during pregnancy.

The researchers from the study mentioned above also noted a connection between a mother’s overall health and her child’s oral health. All parents should have a strong understanding of how their daily habits influence their children. "The relationship between maternal obesity and child tooth decay is complex," Dr. Silva said.

The mother's weight could have an influence on the fetus development. Or, these children may have a higher risk of decay because of increased sugar consumption in that household. An additional study suggests that periodontitis, or severe gum disease, may also be associated with preterm birth and low birth weight.

Your Oral Health is in Your Control

While mom’s oral health does impact our own, it’s important to take control of your dental care. Preventive dental care is the best way to ensure your mouth and smile are healthy and strong. Brushing morning and night and after meals, flossing regularly, and keeping up with your dentist appointments are important daily oral health habits. Not only do they keep your mouth healthy, but they can also improve your overall health by decreasing your risk of heart disease, arterial blockages, and stroke. To learn more about why regular teeth cleanings are important, click here.

“If people think the health of their teeth is down to their genetic makeup, they may not be prepared to make important lifestyle changes," Dr. Silva said. She believes this research will reinforce the importance of education around preventive dental care early in life, “prior to the onset of damage to dental tissues."

When you’re planning a healthy lifestyle for yourself or your family, don’t forget to include oral health in your plans. Delta Dental of New Jersey makes preventive and diagnostic dental care like cleanings easy to access. With individual dental coverage plans, they are often covered at 100 percent! Click here to learn what type of dental plan is right for you.