July 3, 2022
You inherit many different traits from your parents—virtually everything from your eye color to the length of your pinky toe is determined by genetics. But did you know that your genes can also leave you more vulnerable to certain medical conditions, including gum disease? Believe it or not, this condition isn’t just the result of poor oral habits! Keep reading to learn more from your dentist about how genetics can contribute to gum disease along with some tips for protecting your smile.
How Can Genetics Cause Gum Disease?
Studies conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine found that children of parents with periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, are more likely to have problems with their own gums—even if they practice regular oral hygiene!
Among your body’s complex immune system is a special gene called beta defensin 1, or DEFB1. This unique gene is responsible for helping to protect you from nasty problems like tooth decay and gum disease, but unfortunately, you can inherit DEFB1 deficiency from your parents.
In addition to DEFB1 deficiency, you can also inherit weaker enamel from your folks. And since your tooth enamel is what compromises your tooth structure, weakened enamel can lead to tooth decay and cavities that increase your risk of gum disease.
Common Gum Disease Symptoms
The signs of gum disease aren’t always apparent, but there are a few obvious things you should watch for:
- Chronic bad breath.
- Sensitive and tender gums.
- Excessive bleeding when brushing and flossing.
- Dark red or purple gums (healthy gums are a shade of light pink).
- Receding gumline.
- Buildup of pus between gums.
- Loose teeth.
Tips for Preventing Gum Disease
Even if your genes can influence your gums, it doesn’t mean that you should forgo taking care of them! Consider the following tips to ensure optimal oral health and better-protect yourself from gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily—flossing is just as important as brushing! Use traditional dental floss, floss picks, or a Waterpik to clean those hard-to-reach spaces inside your mouth.
- Eat a well-balanced diet consisting of plenty of vitamins and minerals. Avoid excess amounts of sugars and acids.
- Avoid unhealthy oral habits like smoking or using tobacco products, excessive alcohol consumption, overbrushing your teeth, and using your teeth as tools.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings; your dentist is an expert at identifying the early signs of gum disease!
Although your genes can technically cause gum disease, that doesn’t mean your oral hygiene efforts are in vain! Taking care of your mouth is still the best way to ensure that your gums are in the best shape possible. If you’re concerned about gum disease, don’t hesitate to speak with your dentist about treatment options.
About the Practice
Ellicott City Smiles is honored to serve patients and families in the Ellicott City area under the leadership of four skilled specialists: Dr. Reza Modarres, Dr. Monica Tiu, Dr. Navpreet Kaur Khatra, and Dr. Nasreen Sabah. Together they combine several years of experience to provide their patients with an exceptional level of dental care. Their practice is pleased to offer many available services including preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry. To schedule a visit, please visit their website or give them a call: (410) 465-3224.
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