Our genetics are the building blocks for who and what we are. They play a large role in determining height, appearance, lifelong health, and so much more. Genetic testing examines DNA to gave a person insight into a broad range of matters, from their ethnic background to their food sensitivities. All of that raises an intriguing question — can genetic testing also determine whether you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease and other oral health issues? Let’s talk about this important issue.
Your Genes and Your Dental Health
Dental genetic testing can let you know whether you have a certain marker in your DNA that is associated with gum disease. Individuals with the marker might be more likely to suffer from gum disease. However, having the marker does not mean that you are doomed to an unhealthy mouth. That is true even if you have several close family members who struggle with gum disease. Similarly, not having certain markers in your genes doesn’t mean you never have to worry that gum disease will affect you.
The same principle applies to dental decay as well. Although DNA plays a part in determining your susceptibility to cavities, it does not have the final say on how your teeth will fare in the long run.
The Biggest Determining Factor in Oral Health
For most people, the biggest determining factor in their long-term oral health is their own decisions. What you do on a daily and yearly basis will have a profound impact on your oral health, whether for good or for bad. For example, smokers and even former smokers are significantly more likely to develop gum disease than people who have never smoked. Smoking can even reduce the redness and bleeding of the gums that is associated with gum disease, which can lead to the false impression that the gums are healthy.
Brushing and flossing practices also play a huge role in determining your risk of developing oral health problems. Improper oral hygiene practices give bacteria an opportunity to flourish in the mouth. Gum problems and cavities can easily result.
Protecting Your Smile
Regardless of whether you are genetically predisposed to gum disease and cavities, you do have a measure of control over your oral health. If you do the following, you can greatly increase the chances that your smile will thrive for decades to come:
- Brush twice a day
- Floss once a day
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups
- Avoid tobacco
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sugar
Your DNA may have a bearing on whether you develop gum disease and dental decay, but there are far more important factors that play a role in your oral health! Together, you and your dentist can work to keep your smile in excellent condition throughout your lifetime.
About the Author
Dr. Minh-Phuong Bui earned her doctorate from Tufts School of Dental Medicine. Since graduation, she has continued to hone her skills through extensive training, which has equipped her to provide high-quality treatment for a range of oral health conditions. If you would like to speak to Dr. Bui about preserving and/or improving your oral health, contact Southeastern Dental Care today at 508-947-5717.