When Your Body Attacks Your Teeth: Combating Autoimmune Dental Problems

The Genetic Factor: Why Do Some Children Have Worse Teeth Than Others?

The number of American children experiencing some degree of tooth decay is actually on the decline. This might sound like great news, but around 43% of children in the United States have decayed teeth in their mouth, which is still a considerable number. Surely it's the parents' responsibility to make sure their children are brushing and flossing? Unfortunately, it's not quite so straightforward. There are some instances where decay and periodontal disease in children can be linked to their parents, but it's not as though the parent could have known. 

Genetic Causes

Your child's susceptibility to cavities and periodontal disease might have been inherited from you. Some people have a genetic predisposition for dental problems, and this is thought to be linked to the human immune system. When a person's production of interleukin-1 family (a series of protein cells that help to regulate the immune system) is irregular or compromised, certain inflammatory responses can be more pronounced. This means that your child's periodontal disease and cavities become far more severe than they might otherwise have been, due to a genetic factor. Yes, your child will have inherited this from you (or their other parent), but it's not as though you necessarily could have known. Tests can be performed to confirm this genetic susceptibility. 

Higher Risk

If your child's poor dental health is caused by genetic factors, this puts them in a higher risk group. Not only are they more susceptible to cavities and periodontal disease, but dental issues can be more aggressive than they might have been otherwise, not to mention the fact that problems can advance more rapidly than in someone without these genetic factors. So what does this mean for you as a parent who wants their child to enjoy the highest possible standard of oral health?

Diligence and Vigilance

It's all about diligence and vigilance. Yes, your child's dental health might be at greater risk than other children, but this risk doesn't need to result in serious dental problems as long as the situation is carefully monitored. Your family dentist is your partner in this ongoing monitoring. It might be that your child's regular checkups need to happen more often, allowing for additional scaling, polishing, and fluoride treatments to remove plaque before it can begin to decay your child's teeth and before periodontal disease has a chance to take hold. This will need to happen in conjunction with keeping your child's home dental hygiene at an optimum level.

Genetics can play a role in your child's oral health, but this role can be sharply reduced with care and regular dental appointments. Contact a local family dentist to learn more.