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What Role Does Genetics Play In Tooth Disorders?

tooth-disorderMost people don’t like to get cavities and periodontal disease. You can brush, floss and visit your dentist and still end up with tooth decay. Unfortunately for some patients, the cavities may have a link to genetics, according to new reports.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine have found a link between tooth decay and aggressive periodontitis and genetics. According to Dr. Alexandre Vieira, an assistant professor of oral biology at Pitt refers to individual variations, or polymorphisms, of a gene called beta-defensin 1, which plays a key role in the first-line immune response against invading germs, such as the bacteria that causes oral problems.

Dental Caries

Dental caries, or tooth decay, is caused by bacterial infection. Every day, bacteria stick to tooth surfaces through dental plaque. As they feed on sugars, they form acids, which break down tooth enamel. If the infection is not treated the disease can spread to the inside of a tooth or even to the bone. Some people are more likely to get dental decay than others, but the reason is not known. It could be caused by the structure of enamel proteins, the quality and quantity of saliva, and immune defense mechanisms against bacteria. These reasons are linked to genetics. Despite your genetics, you can reduce your chances of tooth decay when you practice good oral hygiene, use fluoride toothpaste and visit Kirkland Family Dentistry.

Periodontal Disease

Like cavities, periodontal disease is a disease caused by bacterial infection. The infection is not in the teeth but the tissues and gums. Many of the people getting periodontal disease are adults and in their thirties. The first stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. Symptoms include redness, bleeding, and swelling of gum tissue (gingiva). If you don’t do good hygiene, your periodontal disease will progress to periodontitis, a disease affecting bone and gums.

Science has found a connection between genetics and periodontal disease. Inflammation in periodontal disease comes from prostaglandins of the immune system. Those cells are produced through the work of several enzymes, each of which derives from one or more genes.


Diabetes involves sugar metabolism and how effective insulin is in the body. The hormone keeps blood sugar levels in the right position. Signs of the disease can be found in the mouth. Dentists can promote health and prevent, diagnose, and treat diabetes. Much of the symptoms of diabetes affect the teeth and gums. Also, there is a strong genetic connection with diabetes.

Although genes aren’t the only cause of periodontal disease and tooth decay, they do play a role, according to research. To fend off the curse of the genes, you will want to continue to brush twice a day, floss once a day and use a dental rinse.

Don’t forget to visit Kirkland Family Dentistry or regular checkups. The dental office is available to answer your questions about tooth decay and genetics. Call for an appointment today.

Dr. Jonathan Everett

Dr. Jonathan Everett

Dr. Jonathan Everett received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington and completed his undergraduate studies in biochemistry at Washington State University. During this time, Dr. Everett served as both the President of the American Student Dental Association chapter as well as the Student Council Vice President. As a board-member of DentPAC for the Washington State Dental Association, Dr. Everett fought to maintain the quality of dental care provided in Washington State by working with state legislators and advocating for patient-centered dentistry in Olympia.
Dr. Jonathan Everett

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