Identical in Everything Except Teeth: Genetics and Tooth Decay

Identical in Everything

Life isn’t fair. I learned this lesson every time I went to the dentist as a kid.

My brother is only 10 months older than I am. Although not quite twins, we are identical in many ways. As we were growing up, we did EVERYTHING together. When he didn’t like zucchini, I didn’t either. When he dumped flour on the floor, I spread it around.

In only one thing we were different. That is when we went to the dentist. I’ve heard it more than once, “Little miss, you know it’s funny. Your teeth are just as clean as your brother’s, but you have more cavities!” My mom would laugh and say, “Your brother got your Dad’s genes and you got mine. Sorry, sweetie.”

Was I doomed to a life of dentist drills and bills?

Genetics and Tooth Decay

Recently, I decided to do a little research. What I discovered was not necessarily what I wanted to hear. Genetics are responsible for about 60% of your tooth decay. Genetics can affect your enamel strength, your sweet tooth, your taste preferences, your saliva strength, and your body’s response to bacteria in your mouth. All of those things influence your dental health.

However, you may be blaming your genetics when you have no reason to. If you have a habit of drinking sugary beverages, don’t use fluoride, don’t bother to floss, or are too tired to brush your teeth well, that is probably where your bad dental health is stemming from. Same goes to me. Even if you really do have bad genetics, your dental habits can control how much they affect you.

Do I have bad dental genes? Yes. Do I need to suffer because of it? Not necessarily.

My call to myself and to you: Take responsibility! It is time for me to stop being jealous of my brother and start being proactive! Even if I got Mom’s genes and he got Dad’s, I am still the one that decides how many cavities I have when I go to the dentist.

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