Genetics and Dentistry: A Red Deer Patient’s Answer to Hereditary Dental Issues

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‡‡flAs humans, we all tend to rely heavily on cause and effect. If such-and-such happened, it is because this person, situation, or action caused it to happen. We use this type of reasoning in nearly every aspect of our lives, including our physical and dental health. At Saby Dental—your Red Deer dentist office—we see this all the time with dental issues.

But the problem with cause and effect is that many people see it as a black and white explanation of what may be a more complex issue. A person can’t simply say that another person had a heart attack because they were overweight. This is too simplistic. More often than not, there are multiple variables that prove to be part of the cause.

The same is true with dentistry. Many people think dental issues are solely caused by a person’s lifestyle: too much sugar = decay. While there is definitely some truth to that, dental issues sometimes have more complex causes. That’s why we wanted to discuss hereditary dental issues today.

Do Genetics Really Play a Role in Oral Hygiene Issues?

According to Colgate, patients who experience decay and gum disease aren’t necessarily dealing with these issues because of their lifestyle choices. Sometimes, patients are simply more genetically prone to them. In a recent blog post on this topic, Colgate cites a study that was recently conducted by the Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. In it, researchers evaluated over three hundred dental records and saliva samples and studied them to determine whether dental decay and periodontal disease could be caused by genetic factors.

In a CNN article reported on this topic, scientists have found that our chance for getting cavities is sixty percent genetics and forty percent hygiene. Our genes play a role in our preference for sweets, how strong our enamel is, the strength of our saliva (an important defense against decay), and the type and number of bacteria in our mouths.

When Do Lifestyle Habits Start Playing a Role?

While genetics play a significant role in whether or not someone will be prone to developing cavities or periodontal disease, that doesn’t mean we should neglect lifestyle. Again, according to Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, forty percent is dependent on lifestyle. This includes our diet, oral hygiene habits, and how often we see the dentist.

Even someone with the best genes can still be susceptible to problems if they don’t properly clean their teeth or watch their diet. What lifestyle factors can have an impact on dental health?

  • Too much sugar in the diet. This could be in the form of eating lots of candy, especially sticky candy that can get stuck in the grooves of the teeth. Sugar breaks down in the mouth into an acid and attacks the enamel, eventually causing decay. It takes about 20 minutes for sugar to start to attack the teeth.
  • Lack of proper brushing. Most people don’t spend enough time brushing. Using an electric toothbrush is one of the best ways to adequately clean the teeth. And, a brushing session should last at least two to five minutes.
  • Lack of flossing. Toothbrush bristles cannot get in between the teeth, nor can they get under the gum line in order to clean out the gum pockets. Floss is the only tool that can remove plaque and food particles from these areas. Failing to clean the plaque from the gums will also contribute to periodontal disease.
  • Smoking. Smoking is one of the leading factors of progressing periodontal disease.

What Can Be Done to Treat Hereditary Dental Issues?

Patients who deal with certain dental conditions because of their genetics have to be diligent about their dental care. While some people might be able to get away with a more lackadaisical attitude toward their dental care, those who deal with genetic dental issues can’t afford to do that.

When we discover that our patients deal with these issues, we recommend the following, an ideal in comprehensive dentistry. Red Deer patients should:

  • Brush their teeth after every meal and before bed.
  • Floss every night.
  • Avoid sugary beverages, including fruit juice, soda, and tea or coffee with sweetener. If these drinks are consumed, they should not be sipped throughout the day and we recommend that the patient brush their teeth or rinse their mouth out after drinking them.
  • Get regular dental cleanings and examinations. For patients who are highly decay-prone, they should get an exam every six to twelve months. Those who are at higher risk for periodontal disease may need cleanings every three or four months instead of every six months.

All of these are, of course, preventative measures. Is there anything that can be done for patients who are concerned about existing dental issues? Definitely! Patients can talk to their Red Deer dentist about getting a smile makeover in Red Deer. A smile makeover would include smile rejuvenation and cosmetic dental treatments, including:

  • Composite bonding and fillings
  • Veneers
  • Porcelain crowns, inlays, or overlays
  • Bleaching (in-office and at-home systems)
  • Orthodontia
  • Implants and implant crowns, removable dentures, full dentures, or implant dentures to replace missing teeth.

Your Red Deer Dentist: Treating Dental Issues with Comprehensive Dentistry

Red Deer patients can trust that their Red Deer dentist will do a comprehensive dental examination to evaluate why they’re experiencing dental issues. This exam will take into consideration lifestyle issues, as well as genetic red flags. Such a thorough examination will ensure that the patient receives the best care possible, including regular dental cleanings and cosmetic dental treatments to give them a smile they’ll be ready to flash for years to come.