If you have extremely good dental health despite a lack of proper dental care or vis versa, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, but scientists found a link between genes and periodontal disease. The study, which was led by Kimon Divaris, and examined approximately 5,000 European Americans who enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The study was conducted in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. The study appears to have identified the genetic variation that’s linked to chronic gum disease.
“These findings confirmed what we long suspected about the heritability of chronic periodontitis,” Devaris explained.
The study found that a large majority of severe gum disease instances can be attributed to a commonly found variation in one’s genetics. This amount of the population with high-risk factors for gum disease goes up to over half when you include those who smoke. Another surprising find was the strong tie between neural pathways and periodontal disease. Similar to the neural pathways for the immune system, it appears they’re directly related to symptoms of gum disease. So, it appears not only do genes play a role in the development of periodontal disease but neuro pathways as well.
Much more needs to be done in terms of research before one can be conclude anything. That said, this information is vital when it comes to both the detection, prevention, and treatment of those who are afflicted with periodontal disease. Hopefully, this evidence will convince more dentists to conduct studies in the field, so more information can be gathered.
While more studies are needed to confirm this link, this study serves as a promising indicator that genes and neural pathways associated with our immunities play a large role in dental health. It’s also incredibly interesting and unexpected that neural pathways play such a large role in the development of gum disease. The knowledge of the role of genetics and neural pathways play in the onset of periodontal disease will hopefully help with the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease. Whether or not your genes incline you to healthy teeth, proper dental care is detrimental to overall health. If you have a family history of poor dental health, proper dental care is even more important. For those interested in reading the full study, it was originally published in Human Molecular Genetics.