Do Genetics Influence Oral Health?

Do genetics influence oral health?

We’ve all heard about growing scientific evidence of the effects our genetic makeup may have on a predisposition for certain diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. But what about dental diseases? Have you inherited a genetic inclination for cavities, periodontal disease, crooked teeth, or oral cancer?

You might be surprised to learn what the latest studies have to say about the connection between your genes and your oral health. What part of your oral health is actually in your control?

Genes and cavities

Are genetics a significant factor when it comes to developing cavities? Yes and no. Cavities are caused by bacteria. Sugar in the foods we eat feed the different types of bacteria that live on our teeth. The acid these bacteria produce is what erodes enamel and causes cavities.

A recent study showed that although there was a genetic disposition to some types of tooth bacteria, these generally weren’t the ones associated with tooth decay. Instead, the types of bacteria that could form cavities were those influenced by controllable factors, like eating sugary foods.

However, genetics also affect such things as the strength of your tooth enamel and how much bacteria-fighting saliva you produce. If your family seems to have a high incidence of dental cavities, what can you do? Ask your dentist about protecting your teeth with dental sealants. These can give your teeth the extra protection they may need to fight off the damaging effects of decay.

In the final analysis of the question of “nature or nurture” when it comes to cavities, the likelihood of your getting a cavity is probably more largely affected by environmental factors and not your genes. The best way to prevent cavities is still the dentist-recommended routine of daily brushing and flossing and regularly scheduled hygiene visits.

Genes and gum disease

Gum disease is characterized by sensitive and inflamed gums and if left untreated, can result in tooth and bone loss.

While genetic factors are known to play a role in gum disease, a lot of research still needs to be done to understand all the factors involved in its development. Periodontitis is a complex chronic inflammatory disease which is affected not only by genetic risk factors but also environmental factors and lifestyle. Today, dentists recognize that while genetic factors may be involved, the biggest contributing factor to gum disease is still a lack of consistently good oral care.

Is gum disease a problem members of your family have struggled to control? It would be good to mention it to your dentist. Early diagnosis and treatment is still the best way to protect your gums and teeth.

Is your family to blame for your bad teeth?

Genes and misaligned teeth

If you need braces, you’re probably not the only one in the family. Genetics play a significant role in determining the size of your jaw and teeth. When the jaw doesn’t have sufficient room to accommodate a full set of teeth, it can cause crowding, gaps, overbites, and underbites.

If tooth misalignment is a common problem in your family’s dental history, be sure to tell your dentist and don’t wait to get orthodontic treatment for your child. The earlier the treatment, the better. Early treatment can allow developing bones and teeth to grow in properly and prevent more serious and costly problems later.

Genes and oral cancer

Thousands of Americans die from oral cancer each year. Although lifestyle choices, such as tobacco and alcohol use, are the top risk factors for oral cancer, genetics can also play a minor role. Individuals carrying certain genetic markers have been found to have a higher risk of developing the disease.

Most dentists routinely screen for oral cancer during a patient’s hygiene visit. They use special equipment that can detect early cancer lesions before they have an opportunity to develop any further. If your dentist does not offer this life-saving exam as part of their routine treatment exam, then be sure to ask about it.

Who should you blame?

When it comes to problems with your oral health, as we’ve seen, there are many factors involved. Some of them you can blame on the collective gene pool of your parents; for others, sorry to say, you can only blame yourself.

When it comes to your health, a proactive, preventive approach is always the best course to take. If you know of genetic factors that could affect your oral health, be sure to talk to your dental provider about them, and as for factors you can control, take advantage of these by practicing an excellent oral care routine.

 


 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Re-posted with permission: source.

 

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Vaping – Is it Safe?

Is vaping a healthy alternative?

It seems like everywhere you go nowadays you see someone vaping. That large, white, cloud of steam escaping from their mouth and floating around their head is a common sight. Vaping has been around for many years, but it’s only been in the last few years that its popularity and use has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.

Why is vaping so popular and just how safe is it for your health?

Vaping 101

Vaping involves inhaling vapor from a small cylinder (similar in size and shape to a cigarette) filled with chemicals and flavors. The vaping pipe has a heating element built in it that changes the liquid in the pipe to steam.

Vaping, or e-cigarettes, are promoted as being a healthy alternative to tobacco-based cigarettes. Some are even encouraged to use vaping as a stepping stone in their struggle to break free from their addiction to nicotine.

How safe is vaping?

For those who really enjoy “riding the mist” and think that they are choosing a safer alternative than cigarettes, it will be disappointing to learn that vaping isn’t really any safer.

Almost all e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the same highly addictive chemical found in traditional cigarettes. Stopping the vaping habit will cause the same nicotine withdrawal symptoms as quitting cigarettes. It will also cause the same dangerous side effects to your health, which is why pregnant woman are warned to avoid vaping.

Many who vape mistakenly believe that steam is safer than smoke. But in reality, the same carcinogenic chemicals are released by both processes. And just as second-hand cigarette smoke is dangerous to others, the vapor from e-cigarettes has been shown to worsen the air quality of a room, mainly by introducing nicotine and other chemicals (including formaldehyde and lead) into the atmosphere. Exposure to this is especially dangerous for smaller children.

One of the most troubling trends with e-cigarettes is their growing use among teenagers – middle school and high school age. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made the statement that nicotine is harmful to the developing teenage brain. And no teenager should be using any tobacco or nicotine-containing products.

Did you know? Vaping increases your oral cancer risk.

 

Vaping and oral cancer

The occurrence of oral cancer has been rising in the U.S. and is a genuine danger with both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Tens of thousands of Americans die from oral cancer every year. If you use e-cigarettes, here are some of the oral cancer symptoms you should be on the watch for:

  • Sores in the mouth and on the lips that don’t heal
  • Red or white patches of skin in the mouth
  • A persistent sore throat or hoarseness
  • Numbness or swelling of the lips or mouth

If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

The best prevention would be to just not use e-cigarettes at all, but if you do continue to vape, ask your dentist on your regularly scheduled checkups to screen your mouth for oral cancer. A dentist has special equipment that helps spot cancer in the developing stages when it is more easily and successfully treated.

To vape or not to vape

We hope looking at these facts will help you to make an informed decision about the wisdom of vaping. In the end, it’s up to you, of course, to decide. But, we hope this information will make you think before you inhale!


 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Re-posted with permission: source.

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