You cannot blame bad oral health on your genes, as your dietary and hygiene habits are what determines it, a new study has found.
The report, by J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), was the first of its kind in looking at whether or not gum disease is hereditary, and it concluded that it is only dependent upon how well you care for your gums and teeth.
While some bacteria found in the mouth is hereditary, these strands do not play a role in tooth decay. But bacteria that results from too much sugar and junk food does cause gum disease and decay.
The new report serves as a warning to reduce your sugar intake and thoroughly clean your teeth to ward off gum disease, which can lead to dementia and heart disease.
A new study has found that your chances of getting gum disease, which can lead to dementia and heart failure, are determined by your hygiene and dietary habits (file photo)
The human mouth harbors one of the most diverse environments housing viruses, fungi and bacteria in the human body.
The most common infections that occur there are cavities and gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, which are chronic inflammatory diseases that slowly and steadily destroy the supporting structures of teeth.
While dentists have known for over a century that certain bacteria strands are linked to cavities, the new study observed the role genes play in their formation.
To separate the role of genetic influence from behavioral factors, the JCVI researchers turned to a popular method for studying such relationships: observing twins.
The researchers looked at 1,000 children for the study. They studied the types of bacteria in the mouths of 485 pairs of twins – 280 non-identical and 205 identical – and a set of triplets
The participants were between the ages of five and 11, and the samples researchers collected were obtained via mouth swabs.
Their findings concluded that the condition of your teeth does depend on your dietary and oral hygiene habits.
They found that the microbiomes – which house bacteria – in the mouths of identical twins were more similar to each other than those of non-identical twins.
This confirmed that there is a genetic contribution to which kinds of bacteria are likely to be present in the mouth.
But the bacteria linked closely to heritability were not the ones that play a role in tooth decay.
Twins who consumed higher amounts of sugar in food and drinks had a higher amount of bacteria that is linked to having more cavities.
President of JCVI Dr Karen Nelson said: ‘Limiting sugar consumption and acid build-up in the mouth have been part of the dogma of the dental community for some time.’