Recently, a study was published in Australia that looked at the impact of genes (that is, as in genetics not the jeans you might be wearing right now!) on developing dental cavities. The study looked at twins with identical genomes as well as other factors, in determining whether or not genetics plays a role in dental health. Here’s what they found:
- It appears that genetics don’t play a role in one’s propensity for developing cavities so you might want to stop blaming your Mom or Dad and their “soft” teeth for whatever is going on in your own mouth!
- Researchers looked at 173 sets of twins from gestational age through to age 6 so it was a fairly comprehensive study. A combination of questionnaires and/or dental exams, were completed at 24 and 36 weeks gestational age, at birth, 18 months and again at 6 years of age.
- Other factors measured included the mother’s age, weight, history of smoking, any illness or medications, Vitamin D levels and stress or alcohol use.
- By studying twins, the researchers were able to determine that our genes don’t seem to play as much of a role in dental decay as do other factors such as environmental with lack of fluoride in the water being one example cited.
- The lead researcher, Dr. Mihiri Silva, points out that more than anything, this research is important in terms of helping people to understand the crucial role of early preventative measures like dental exams and implementing good oral health habits at an early age. Stating, “it was important that people don’t think of tooth decay as genetic” she emphasized that, “if people think the health of their teeth is down to their genetic make-up, they may not be prepared to make important lifestyle changes.”
- In other words, the hard truth of this research, as we interpret it, is that the “blame game” will not help people to develop good oral health habits and then poor teeth will result becoming a somewhat self-fulfilling prophecy!
Of course Brinkley Blogs has spent many a blog talking about not only oral health but your overall health and the important role your teeth play in that process. Teaching children good oral health care habits at an early age is important and bringing them to the Dentist early also helps sets the tone for a lifetime of good dental care. We encourage patients to bring even babes in arms to sit on your lap and let us have a look around, maybe count emerging baby teeth – if for no other reason than to get your child used to visiting the Dentist. We have also talked about other factors that influence oral health including diet and indeed the study also found that children of obese mothers were actually more likely to develop dental caries. A mother’s health and lifestyle (according to study results) did seem to influence dental outcomes and while that might speak to factors such as increased sugar consumption it would be problematic to make assumptions that obesity was the only reason for poor oral health. More research, as Dr. Silva pointed out, is necessary. In the meantime, as we always do here at Brinkley, we take this time to remind you – “don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”