Who’s to blame for bad teeth? Genes or the environment?

Can heredity influence place patients at greater risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease? The age-old complex question of whether genes or environmental factors are to blame for many of the poor health issues inflicting modern day humans has slithered its way into the focus of the dental industry. It was only a matter of time before researchers began to shine the spotlight onoral microbiomes and the role they play in dental health.

 Aspects of dental conditions controlled by genetics and environment

·         Tooth decay

With the meteoric rise in the number of Australians experiencing tooth decay much focus and attention has been directed at this aspect of poor oral health. According to a report released by theAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare, three in ten adults between the ages of 25 to 44 suffered untreated tooth decay. The trend extends to children too. Results from the recent Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll suggest that one in three pre-schoolers have tooth decay. Much of the blame for this alarming trend lay at the foot of the environment. Patients need only look at the foods they consume to understand the cause of tooth decay.

Modern diets that see the consumption of sugar-loaded foods and drinks often give rise to the prevalence of dental diseases, from cavities to tooth loss to gum disease and bone reabsorption. Increased sugar intake exposes teeth to enamel-destroying bacteria. This bacterium responsible for tooth decay is usually acquired when the first signs of baby teeth become noticeable. Sugar also exacerbates demineralisation (loss of minerals that result in compromised teeth structures) by creating an ideal environment for acid to attack the outer surfaces of teeth rapidly.

But this is not only where the story ends for tooth decay. Genetic makeup for some patients also plays a part. This is particularly so in cases where family genes influence the development of teeth. How teeth develop can result in tooth enamel’s sensitivity to bacteria.

Patients looking to replace lost due to tooth decay have a number of treatment options to consider. A qualified implant dentist can provide a patient withall-on-four dental implants in Melbourne or same day teeth depending on the patient’s individual situation and preference.

·         Tooth misalignment

Tooth misalignment issues that are corrected by orthodontic treatments can have both a genetic origin and be influenced by environmental factors. Heredity plays a role in criteria such as size of the teeth and jaw. In addition to the genetic component, certain behaviours such as thumb sucking and the use of a dummy in childhood can determine how crooked a patient’s teeth can develop.

·         Discoloured teeth

The colour of teeth is also not as simple as black and white. Both genes and the environment (intrinsic and extrinsic) each play a role. Genetics influences the depth of white enamel – the thinner the enamel promotes a ‘yellow’ appearance while environmental factors such as being exposed to excess fluoride in childhood and drinking tooth-staining beverages like coffee also contribute to tooth discolouring.

Need to restore lost teeth due to dental disease? Consult an experiencedimplant dentist at High Dental Implants Melbourne for all available options. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

Andy