Genetics and Dental Health Basics

The study of genetics and oral health is an emerging field. More than just determining eye color and hair curliness, genetics determines a wide range of traits that can positively or negatively influence a person’s health. The conditions amelogenesis imperfecta, where the tooth enamel (outermost layer of the tooth) fails to develop properly, and dentinogenesis imperfecta, where the dentin (inner layer of the tooth) develop improperly, are both genetic conditions caused by specific gene mutations. Gene mutations on the LYZL2 gene will cause decay only in lower front teeth, the teeth which usually are the most decay-resistant. There are also gene mutations that affect saliva production and protein formation that can make teeth more likely to develop problems and make those problems more difficult to treat. Studying genetic disorders that affect teeth might help dentists more effectively prevent common dental conditions in the future.

Common Questions About Genetic Dental Problems:

Is there a genetic test that will tell me if I am at higher risk for cavities?

No, there is no one test that can examine your genes and provide an accurate and comprehensive risk assessment. Although work continues toward this goal, it is not possible yet.

My child has a genetic condition that caused their teeth to not grow in correctly. Is it something I did?

No. The conditions are caused by mutations in your genes, not any behaviors you could have controlled for. You should not blame yourself. Focus instead on finding a great dentist to work with you and your child.

Can genes increase my risk for oral cancer?

Yes, there is evidence that genetics plays a role in developing cancers. However, it’s important to remember that your genes are just one factor and the lifestyle decisions you make, particularly those involving tobacco use, are a much bigger risk factor.

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How CariFree is Different

CariFree products can help interrupt the disease process a number of ways, preventing cavities from ever forming. The unique pH correcting formula of CariFree products helps make the oral environment unfavorable for acid-loving, caries-causing bacteria. The high pH from the CariFree system also protects tooth enamel from having minerals dissolved away in acidic conditions. The products contain nano hydroxyapatite, which the teeth can use to repair missing minerals from the enamel, particularly in the high pH environment the products create. Xylitol, a natural, non-nutritive sweetener, has several dental benefits. It makes bacteria less able to stick together in a tough to remove biofilm. Caries-causing bacteria also eat the xylitol but cannot use it for energy or to reproduce. So, the bacteria starve to death while eating xylitol.

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