Des Moines Dentist on Oral Health: Nature vs. Nurture

Genetics can play a large role in a number of health factors. Awareness of a predisposition to certain health ailments allows people to tailor their lifestyle accordingly. For example, an individual from a family with a history of heart problems will likely make an attempt to live a heart-healthy life and engage in a regular exercise routine. However, is the same true for oral health? Your Des Moines dentist, Dr. Stephen Burds, outlines the findings from a recent study comparing nature to nurture in terms of oral health.

Twin Studies

In order to determine the effect nature and environment play on oral health, scientists studied two sets of twins. Identical twins made up one half of the subjects studied, while fraternal twins made up the other half. The scientists researched the DNA sequences of microbes in all of the test subjects’ mouths.

After studying the results of all subjects, the researchers concluded that the oral environment of identical twins were not notably different than those of fraternal twins. The study also noted that the microbial make-up of the twins’ mouths became more varied when the twins lived apart from one another.

What the Evidence Shows

After conducting their research, the scientists concluded that genetics do not play an extremely large role in the microbial make-up an individual’s salivary environment. The study also found that similarities in bacterial communities could exist among all humans.

The scientists also concluded that microbial environment changes the most during adolescence and puberty. As if puberty wasn’t difficult enough, now a changing oral environment is added to the list. By isolating nurture as the victor in the battle of nature vs. nurture, it enables future research to focus on developing treatment plans to cater to a changing microbial environment.

Schedule Your Visit

If you want to learn more information about maintaining optimal oral health, Dr. Burds can help. At Gateway Dental Group, we provide general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. Contact our 50309 dental office by calling (515) 344-4131 to schedule an appointment today. We welcome patients from Des Moines and all neighboring communities.