Friday, January 16, 2015

Are Cavities Genetic?

With the high-tech research and cutting edge computing power available, it seems that the answer to many questions still lies in genetic makeup. Simply put, it’s hard to say whether cavities are hereditary. Genetic factors can play a part in oral health, but cavity formation is a complex and interesting story.

Oral Cavity

The Genetic Instructions for your Teeth

People will generate different amounts of saliva in their mouths, which is a genetic trait. Of course, saliva has benefits such as washing away germs and containing proteins and minerals that protect teeth from damage.

The germs that remain will generate acid to deteriorate your teeth, and saliva will neutralize the effects.

The durability of tooth enamel, the strong, outer coating of teeth, is also controlled by genes. When your teeth are formed, a calcium-rich layer coats the outside, and proteins surround the teeth to make the enamel.

For some people, their genes leave their enamel thin, soft, and possibly discolored.

Crooked teeth can make it more difficult to floss, deterring young children and adults from removing harmful bacteria hiding out in the nooks and crannies of the mouth.

These factors mean that teeth can be more or less susceptible to damage, but there’s still more to how cavities form.

Germs Can Travel Between People

A study was conducted on the germs that form cavities and they discovered that when mothers of young children had cavities, their children tended to as well. Germs can be transmitted when sharing utensils, sharing food, or warming pacifiers using the mouth. Mothers with genetically weak enamel and insufficient saliva are more susceptible to cavities, which in turn can mean greater transmission to their children. Knowing this, there is a way to prevent this from happening by being careful about sharing and hygiene.

Family Eating Habits

As a family groceries are often shared, which means foods on the shopping list high in sugar will be consumed by various family members. While a shared diet isn’t hereditary, it’s clear that is will have an effect on people who share a genetic background, contributing to the correlation of cavities between people who are related.

Good Oral Health Care Counters Predispositions

Even with all the above factors described, it’s often possible to work past these hurdles – proper dental care along with regular checkups can tip the balance. Someone born with a great set of teeth may have more cavities in the end than a person with mediocre teeth and great brushing and flossing habits.

1 comment:

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