DNA Testing May Reveal a Gene for Periodontitis

A new trend in Treating Gum Disease

Using genetic testing to test for the genes of various diseases is not new. It is being applied to many diseases today. Now there are multiple tests produced by different companies available to test for the genes of periodontal disease. The purpose of the test is to determine if you are a likely candidate to get this bad gum disease.

How It Works

Companies that offer the tests usually want a swab from the inside of your cheeks or a sample of your saliva. After they receive the sample, the companies will analyze it and then send a report to you.

The report will reveal what kind of pathogens are in your mouth and what your risk level is because of them. The tests focus on periodontitis, but some of them will also reveal your risk level of other major illnesses.

The bacteria and inflammation involved in periodontitis are believed by researchers to be responsible for a whole host of diseases. This makes it even more important to seek to identify this gum disease early and eliminate it before it can do considerable damage. A few diseases it has been connected to include cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, several types of cancer, dementia, and many more.

Advanced Periodontitis

It is believed that the presence of a certain gene, IL-1 (and other ones), reveals that the individual carrying it is much more susceptible to developing periodontitis. Since some people have gum disease that reaches the advanced stages much faster than others, this test enables the people and their dentists to watch more carefully for the disease.

Periodontitis is certainly a disease that needs to be eliminated quickly. It is the major reason why adults in the United States are losing their teeth today. It is believed that as many as 47.2 percent of adults in this country have the disease.

The bacteria that cause it gets into the gums and an immune reaction is started. Before long, this reaction becomes an autoimmune reaction that attacks the bacteria, the ligaments that keep the teeth in place, and the jawbone. Over time, the teeth will become loose and will even fall out if it is not treated.

Getting Advance Notice

The purpose of this genetic health testing is to inform the individual of their likelihood to develop a specific disease – periodontitis. In addition to watching for the disease, the dentist will hopefully be able to provide selective treatment designed to focus on the specific type of bacteria involved. With this combined knowledge and treatment, the dentist can be ready for the outbreak of periodontitis in the individual and should be able to stop it early.

Problems with DNA Testing

DNA testing for genetic disorders to discover the type of periodontal disease treatment needed in the event of a breakout has its limits. For one thing, there is absolutely no guarantee that you will develop the disease.

The presence of a specific gene – or even more than one – is not evidence that you will get periodontitis. There are often many other factors and having the genes is only a part. Some of them include environmental or lifestyle factors.

The Factors

Environmental factors include things around you that may affect you and may include some that you are not aware of. Lifestyle factors are things that you can control, such as whether or not you smoke or drink a lot. In fact, some lifestyle factors by themselves could give you gum disease – genes or no genes. This includes the two just mentioned.

Another lifestyle factor is your personal dental care. Not brushing your teeth or flossing is a good way to get periodontal disease and a lot of cavities. Leaving the bacteria on your teeth that produces acid which erodes your tooth enamel and inflames your gums is asking for dental trouble.

Preventive Care

Instead of being overly concerned about your genes, it makes much more sense to do what you can now to prevent the development of the disease. Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly is a very good way to start preventing periodontal disease. Other things that you can do to help prevent it include:

  • Reducing the amount of sugar you consume daily – the harmful bacteria that cause periodontitis produces acid when you consume sugar.

  • Eat a healthy diet – having the correct nutrients in your diet will strengthen the enamel on your teeth and support your gum's immune system.

  • Stay hydrated – not having enough saliva means that the bacteria and acid are not frequently being washed off your teeth and gums. This raises your risk of gum disease and cavities.

  • See a dentist regularly – making regular visits to the dentist will enable the dentist to spot gum disease when it develops. The dentist can also clean your teeth and watch for other problems as well. If you know that you have the gene or genes, notify the dentist of it.

If you have had genetic testing for periodontal disease and are looking for a periodontist to help you either to be prepared for it to develop, or to get periodontal treatment now, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can provide it. He provides all levels of treatment for periodontitis and periodontal surgery. Most dental health plans are accepted. His dental offices are located in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.