For years there have been studies linking tooth decay to our genetic makeup - but in a new study from Australia, researchers studied several sets of twins for years and came up with some interesting results.

Dr. Mihiri Silva, the lead researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, states that there have been very few studies on genetics and the impact it might have on dental health. She decided to tackle the subject by studying the teeth of twins. Dr. Silva and her team kept tabs on the teeth of 173 sets of twins from pregnancy to the age of six. The results show that even in identical twins, varying degrees of tooth decay were found, which Dr. Silva says proves environmental factors have a say in dental health. But genetics? Not so much.

Now, if your one or both of your parents experience dental decay, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed to suffer the same fate. In fact, Dr. Silva stresses the dangers that can come from relying on genetics to determine your oral health care plan. Relying on genetics alone could leave someone less prepared to make lifestyle changes for the betterment of their oral health.

The American Dental Association (ADA) agrees by reporting no one has discovered a gene that has proven to impact ones’ chances of contracting periodontal disease and that environmental factors, such as smoking and diabetes, impact ones’ dental health much more.

What else does this mean? It means if you’ve been hanging your toothbrush on your parent’s perfect dental health, you might want to rethink your strategy. You CAN NOT ignore your dental health based on heredity. Genetic testing could one day determine such things as your predisposition for cavities, but not today.

Dr. Silva believes results from the study proves just how important it is to start EVERY child on a dental health routine and not rely on ones’ family tree to determine oral health care. She said since there is a definite link between childhood cavities and one day developing diabetes or risking cardiovascular disease later on, that the dental habits you pick up in childhood are extremely important.

Regardless of your dental ancestry, unless advised otherwise by your dentist, the minimum oral health regime includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once, and regular checkups with your dentist.

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