Is It Possible That Bad Teeth Can Be Blamed On Your Genes? Part 1

Do you know people who seem to have beautiful, white and strong teeth despite the fact that they eat tons of sweets, rarely brush their teeth and have very little experience in the area of dental cavities?  And, you brush several times a day, and floss as directed by your dental professional and still have to deal with the “laughing gas” once or twice a year?  Where is the justice in that, you ask?  Well, I recently read an article on this topic.  Allow me to share what I learned about bad teeth and your genes from that article.

Common Chronic Disease Around the Globe

Some of you may remember an episode on the “The Simpsons” in which the dentist brought out the “The Big Book of British Smiles” in an attempt to scare a child into better compliance with the recommended oral hygiene regimen.  I am sure many viewed the episode laughed and thought it was funny but the sad truth is that this “bad teeth” situation is not just a British problem.  Science says that whether or not your teeth are healthy and to what extent you experience gum disease depends on a combination of both genetics AND dental hygiene.  The statistics that Mary L. Marazita, Director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine quotes say that approximately sixty percent of the risk for tooth decay appears to actually be genetic!

Other Areas of Concern for Genetics

Mary reports that even though genetic dentistry is pretty much still in its infancy, they have identified five areas in which genes seem to play a role in tooth decay:

  1. Your preference for sweets.  While we know that everyone likes sweets, or so we like to think, we all know people who can take them or leave them.  Their worlds don’t revolve around that chocolate candy bar or bowl of ice cream.  Even children, whether you believe this or not, do not ALL morph into “crack-addled lunatics” at the mere sight of the candy aisle in department and grocery stores.    In actual fact, if all the other factors are the same, the stronger your sweet preference, the greater your risk for tooth decay.  So…literally…you could have two children in your home and they would not behave the same in regard to sweet preference, based upon their genes.
  2. Tooth Enamel.  This one can be pretty much a no brainer — we all know that not everyone has strong tooth enamel.  In this area, we also know that the tooth enamel protects the inner structures of the teeth from damage.  So, if the enamel is soft, it is easier for bacteria to get into the inner structures of the teeth and do their damage — end result is cavities.  Your genes have been proven to be the primary determining factor for the structure of the enamel of your teeth. Enter tooth decay if your genes say you have soft tooth enamel.

There are three more areas of concern that are related to your genes that are very important for this discussion.  Come back next week and we will continue this topic and talk about those other areas.  In the meantime, it is vitally important that you maintain your good oral health regimen and regular visits to your local dental professional. Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat gum and periodontal diseases in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at and he can tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

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