Does Gum Disease Run in Families?

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Periodontal disease, which is commonly referred to simply as “gum disease” occurs in more than 75 percent of adults, according to The New York Times. Although gum disease is usually believed to be the result of poor oral hygiene habits, in reality, 30 percent or periodontitis sufferers are simply genetically susceptible.

The Genetics of Periodontal Disease

The biological children of gum disease sufferers are 12 times more likely to have an abundance of the oral bacteria responsible for causing plaque buildup that eventually leads periodontal disease versus children whose parents do not have periodontitis.

It is believed that genetic gum disease sufferers have certain genetic factors that appear to influence the body’s immune factor interleukin-1 (IL-1), which is a cytokine that controls the inflammatory response. People who have a genetic propensity towards gum disease usually experience a rapid onset of gum disorders that quickly progress to full-blown periodontal disease. Stress in genetic gum disease sufferers also appears to make periodontal disease symptoms worse than in non-genetic gum disease individuals and might have a direct bearing on the sufferer’s immune system’s response to the bacteria that leads to gum disease.

Determining if a patient is genetically predisposed towards developing gum disease can give physicians and dentists a jump-start on preventing the disease. Medical Daily reports that Panos P. Papapanou, a dental professor at Columbia University Medical Center who has been studying the role that genetics plays in gum disease, states, “If a patient is found to be highly susceptible to severe periodontitis, we would be justified in using aggressive therapies, even though that person may have subclinical disease.”

With new research revealing the correlation between genetics and gum disease, many sufferers might find hope and be offered new ways to prevent periodontal disease before it ever has a chance to develop.

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