The Host Genetic Control of the Oral Microbiome in Health and Disease study straight out of the Cell Host & Microbe journal from September 2017 indicates that incidence of tooth decay is far more closely linked with environmental factors than it is connected to genetic factors.
Anyone blaming the holes in their teeth and abundance of fillings on their mum, dad, aunt or uncle is likely to get a slap in the face at this news.
Environmental factors that cause tooth decay are various things like eating or drinking a lot of sugary drinks or foods, not brushing your teeth often enough, etc. Genetic factors mean the shared genes that we have among members of the family (why we look like our parents or grandparents, etc.).
This study was a particularly clever survey, as the genetic factors were well covered within the study. The study involved investigating 485 sets of twins aged between 5 and 11, 205 identical and 280 non-identical, to test the levels of shared particular bacteria and microorganisms in the mouth. Genetically, how much is similar between two people is highest in identical twins, high still in non-identical twins, and then lower in regular siblings.
The results found that there were many similarities in the microorganisms in the mouth in both identical and non-identical sets of twins, but the bacteria that caused tooth decay was less of a shared factor between the two.
Not only was there less genetically common tooth decay bacteria, but it even decreased as time went on. Since the study was conducted on children from the ages of 5 to 11, you can imagine that the commonalities as time went by into adulthood would also be negligible.
What this means, of course, is that you shouldn’t just resign yourself to have bad teeth if they “run in your family” – well, with regards to tooth decay, anyway. It is likely that if you, your friends, your children, or anyone else that you know has a lot of holes in their teeth that it’s actually all pretty much their fault. It’s more down to overconsumption of sugar and poor dental habits than it is to do with anything running in the family.
This means that you need to take your (and your children’s) dental health into your own hands to ensure that you ward off tooth decay – and it can be done by just following some simple rules. You already know the rules, don’t you? Cut down consumption of sugar, make sure to brush after you do have sugar, brush morning and night, and floss every day. Hey, it’s not rocket science, but it’s kinda proven to work, you know?
If you already think you have some tooth decay or holes in your teeth it’s best to head along to the local dentist to go for a checkup. Even though you might need to have some fillings done, it’s always better to get on top of it before it gets worse. Tooth decay can spread, which can lead to nasty things like root canals, which we all want to avoid. While it can sometimes be scary going to the dentist, it’s better always to be safe rather than sorry. Once everything is all patched up and back on track just remember that mantra – steer clear of excess sugar and make sure to keep up the regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste. You’ve got your teeth for life, so you better make sure to take care of them the best way that you know how!