Genetic Testing Underused in Dentistry – Why?

Powerful Tools That Can Help Prevent Gum Disease

Being able to know when you are more likely to get a particular disease can be very helpful when it comes to prevention. Knowing that certain genes may lead to getting a particular disease such as periodontitis or oral cancer are present can place you and your dentist on alert to watch more carefully for the disorders. Genetic testing by a dentist can enable specialized treatment to be given to help combat or even prevent the outbreak of specific oral diseases, such as periodontitis. 


DNA Testing for Periodontal Disease

Periodontitis is the advanced form of gum disease. The bacterium that is behind it produces an acid that actually destroys gum tissue and the jawbone that supports the teeth. This causes the teeth to become loose, and then, if not treated, the teeth will fall out. 

The aggressive form of periodontitis progresses rapidly, even in people that are healthy. This causes gums and teeth to be destroyed quickly, and it may occur to a few teeth or all of them. 

Genetic screening can give dentists an advance warning, as well as those who have the genetic disorders that make them more prone to serious gum disease. Although most people can stop the early stages of gum disease simply by brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing, these steps are not likely to stop aggressive periodontitis. 

Although much more needs to be learned about the influence of genetics on the development of aggressive periodontitis, it is believed that genetics have a role in at least 50% of its cause. It is also known that aggressive periodontitis occurs primarily in those under the age of 35. 


Customized Medicine

Once the genetic makeup of an individual is understood to have certain potentially hazardous genes, a particular form of medicine may be delivered as needed. It would be customized to fit the specific genetic issue to overcome the genetic factor.

Periodontitis is a particular concern among dentists. This oral disease is still the predominant reason why adults lose their teeth. There is a known genetic factor (IL-1) behind it in some people. It is also known to be strong enough of a factor, that even when smoking and alcohol are not involved, people with the gene will often develop the disease. 


Why It Is Important to Stop Gum Disease

Understanding whether or not genetic gum disease is much more than a mere intellectual exercise in finding out whether or not someone has a specific gene. The benefit of genetic testing can be seen more clearly when it is understood that the bacteria involved in gum disease causes inflammation, which is also the same cause behind many other major diseases, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, infertility, and many more. 

It appears that once gum disease starts, even though it may only be causing bleeding of the gums, that it probably already has access to the bloodstream – enabling it and inflammation to go anywhere in the body. This means that with any form of gum disease that the potential for other serious diseases has already started. 

When someone has the genes for a genetic gum disease, it means that the likelihood of developing periodontitis is 20 times higher than that of the average individual. The presence of other related genes also means that they may develop a rapidly progressive periodontal disease or early onset gum disease. 


Symptoms of Gum Disease

Gingivitis is gum disease in the early stages. At the start, there are not likely to be many symptoms, but you will likely see:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss.
  • Red or swollen gums.
  • Bad breath that does not go away. 

As gum disease becomes more serious and develops into periodontitis, there will be several other symptoms, including: 

  • Receding gums
  • Spaces developing between teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in the way dentures fit
  • Pus and inflammation at the gum line.


Tips to Avoid Periodontitis

Whether or not you have a gene for periodontitis, there are several things you can do to help keep gum disease at bay. These tips will help you protect your teeth and gums.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time.
  • Floss daily.
  • Rinse your mouth out with water after eating or drinking sugary foods.
  • Eat healthy (more fruits and vegetables) to provide nourishment for a strong immune system.
  • Avoid drinking sugary drinks through the day. 


Anyone Can Get Periodontitis

Even though there is a genetic connection in some people, anyone can develop periodontitis by not taking care of their teeth. Once you develop the more severe form of gum disease, you will need the treatment of a dentist to get rid of it. 


If you live in the Carrollton, Cedar Hill , Dallas or Grapevine, TX areas, you can get genetic testing for periodontitis at the ToothHQ offices . We are board certified Periodontal surgeons expert in treating the disease, as well as helping to restore gums and teeth. For more information, or to set up an appointment, you can call our office today at (214) 731-0123.