As we are coming to understand the important role that genetics plays in disease, people are becoming more and more interested in getting their genes tested to understand their risks. Some companies are even selling tests that you can perform at home to find out about your supposed genetic health risks, and last month the FDA has decided to allow these tests to be marketed, although it issued a cautionary press release.
But what about your oral health? Is your oral health dependent on your genes? It’s complicated. To try to make sense of the situation, the American Dental Association (ADA) has released guidelines on the link between genes and oral health.
Genetic Tests Can’t Predict Your Oral Health Risks
One of the most important messages that the ADA wants to get out is that currently there are no genetic tests that can really predict your oral health risks.
DNA tests can signal that you have a particular marker that may be related to your risk of oral health problems, but they can’t tell whether you’ll develop those problems. The ADA talks about a number of genes that have been identified as possible sites for future study to help investigate risks and possible treatments.
In fact, the ADA says, the contribution of the genetic element to your risk is relatively small. More important is the contribution of environmental and lifestyle factors. The ADA stresses that it’s most important to try to take an active role in taking care of your oral health, including good oral hygiene, regular dental checkups, and eating a healthy diet (by taking steps such as reducing sugar and limiting your consumption of fast food).
What about Microbial Testing?
Most of the discussion of genetic testing is related to testing your genes for risk, but when it comes to oral health, there’s another type of genetic test that might be useful: microbial testing. In this type of testing, samples of your saliva are used to identify which oral bacteria you have in your mouth.
Since some forms of bacteria are associated with serious disease and others are more benign, this can show whether your mouth is infected with particular disease-causing organisms. This could then help guide the treatment response.
The ADA doesn’t think that this type of testing is useful as a front-line treatment. It’s not something everyone should undergo. However, the ADA says that this type of test could prove very useful in helping to understand why some people aren’t responding to treatment. However, the ADA also says that these tests aren’t yet relevant to treatment guidelines.
Advanced Care for Your Oral Health
Do you want to keep your teeth for life? Are you looking for a Westchester County dentist that deploys the most modern dental technologies and techniques backed up by dental science to help?