Tooth Decay -Genetic or Environmental?

September 4th, 2019

It’s easy to blame somethings on our parents, but recent research shows that you shouldn’t blame tooth decay on genetics. In the past it has been thought that our risk of developing cavities is similar to our family members. However, more research is showing that tooth decay boils down mainly to environmental factors rather than genetics. Although we can’t just easily point to our parents when we develop a cavity, this can be a good thing because tooth decay is largely preventable! Take a look at what influences your risk of tooth decay and how you can prevent it:

Interestingly enough, we are made up of good bacteria that help us survive. However, some of the bacteria found within the mouth can feed on sugars within the foods we eat and lead to tooth decay. These bacteria produce acids that wear down our tooth enamel and create what we all dread and know to be cavities. These bacteria often come after birth, and with more research specific bacteria are being found to play a role in creating cavities. While some bacteria we do inherit from our parents, others that have been linked to causing dental cavities are not found to be associated with genetics, including Streptococcus mutants, and Porphyromonas gingivalis. The study conducted by the J. Craig Venter Institute in Maryland evaluated 485 pairs of identical and fraternal twins within the age range of 5 to 11 years old. When analyzing the study participants’ dental plaque and bacteria present within the mouth, they found that environmental factors played a significant role in the type of bacteria present that were associated with causing tooth decay. The bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay were mainly due to factors including diet and home care dental habits such as brushing and flossing. However, family history is important when looking at risks of tooth decay, for instance similar food diets shared between family members could increase or lower the risk of tooth decay.

What you may be able to blame genes for is the development of teeth. Such as the relationship between your teeth when biting together, the timing in which your teeth first appear, or even the size of teeth (macrodontia or microdontia).

So, while somethings you may get away with being able to blame your parents for, tooth decay is largely in part influenced by environmental factors. This is why it’s extremely important to get regular dental check-ups, and practice good oral hygiene care to ensure that your teeth are healthy and lasting lifetime!

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.




Is there a Genetic Component to my Kid's Tooth Decay?

May 4th, 2019

Our genes make us who we are and seem to play a significant role in many conditions in our lives. However, according to a recent study (“Genetic and Early Life Environmental Influences on Dental Caries Risk: A Twin Study), tooth decay may not be one of the conditions influenced by genetics. But what about your lifestyle habits? Recent research shows that environmental factors rather than genetics could be the main culprit influencing the development of tooth decay.

The study done at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia drew several interesting conclusions. By analyzing 173 sets of identical and non-identical twins from pregnancy up to age six, they found that genes did not impact the prevalence of tooth decay. Identical twins with the same genetic makeup were not found to have the same amount of tooth decay. Instead, outside factors such as fluoride availability, diet, and oral hygiene habits may be playing the most important role in the onset of dental cavities. 

In addition, the study recorded and observed the mother's weight, health conditions, medication use, vitamin D levels, stress, alcohol intake and smoking habits during pregnancy through a questionnaire. The researchers discovered a link between the mother’s health and habits during pregnancy with the susceptibility of dental caries. Obesity in pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of tooth decay in children. Unfortunately, in the United States, tooth decay is the #1 most common childhood disease. Even in Australia the researchers found that one in every three children have tooth decay as early as their first day starting school. But, the good news is, tooth decay is highly preventable! It is important to start practicing good oral hygiene habits and live a healthy lifestyle from an early age to help protect your smile and body. This way the risk of developing other systemic issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems can be minimized.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. DerekDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Stephens would be more than willing to help.


Sharks and Human Tooth Regeneration

May 4th, 2016

Sharks can seem scary, but did you know they can help us learn more about tooth regeneration? In December 2015, we blogged about Lake Malawi cichlids and their process of regenerating teeth. Turns out we can also discover properties of tooth regeneration from other animals underwater!

Tooth Loss (Edentulism)

Before finding ways to regenerate teeth, we need to learn more about the problem of human tooth loss. Take a look at these facts from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:

  • The average number of teeth that adults aged 20-64 have: 24.92 (as opposed to a full 32)
  • 3.75% of adults between 20 and 64 have no remaining teeth
  • Older, less-educated Black or Hispanic adults who smoke and have lower incomes are more likely to have fewer teeth
  • 27% of adults aged 20-64 had untreated tooth decay
  • 52% of adults between 20 and 64 had lost at least one tooth from dental disease
  • Cavities and untreated tooth decay are the main causes of tooth loss in adults

Fun Facts about Sharks

Now that we've studied human teeth loss, let's take some time to learn about teeth in sharks:

  • The number of teeth that sharks can have up to: 3,000!
  • Human teeth are set in the jaw, but shark teeth are fixed in the gums
  • Sharks can constantly regrow their teeth - they lose over 30,000 in a lifetime!
  • Genes in sharks are linked to the development and regeneration of teeth
  • Humans have these same genes - Dr. Gareth Fraser from the University of Sheffield and his team claim that this conclusion can lead to the development of more treatments for human tooth loss!

What's the Connection Between Sharks and Humans?

By studying gene expression in the teeth development of catshark embryos, Dr. Fraser's team discovered that certain genes contributed to creation of a set of epithelial cells called dental lamina. These cells were responsible for the regeneration of teeth in sharks. What's interesting is that humans have the same genes that help form dental lamina, which lead to the formation of the growth of both baby and adult teeth! However, the dental lamina disappears after all adult teeth have grown in.

The team also observed that these genes have been around for 450 million years in sharks and could be the force behind tooth development of all vertebrates. Sharks have held these genes due to the fact that maintaining their teeth are crucial for hunting, but the ability for humans to regenerate teeth has evolved to disappear.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and their newest addition to the team, Dr. Zarah Ali, if you have any thoughts or concerns. The caring team at Wellesley Dental Group will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. VanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other periodontal or oral surgery needs, Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.


Children Skipping Breakfast Are at a Higher Risk of Cavities

February 3rd, 2014

smiling girl

The late morning rush to school many families experience and/or lack of food due to insufficient funds that often results in children not eating breakfast is detrimental to their oral health. When children, particularly preschoolers, miss out on breakfast their chances of having tooth decay rises, according to a study in a journal issue in Journal of the American Dental Association conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study focused on the association between healthy eating habits, including eating breakfast and having healthy balanced meals, as well as cavities in the primary teeth of more than 4,000 preschoolers among the age of two to five years old.

Researchers who conducted the study determined that children in this age group who skip breakfast are about four times more likely to develop cavities.  Also, children who do not eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day are three times as likely to get cavities.

Young children will have a reduced risk of getting cavities if healthy eating practices are established. Emphasizing the importance of eating breakfast daily will not only promote oral health, but also reduce tooth decay in children.

It is also important to be careful about the foods you choose to consume for breakfast. There are many beneficial snacks and breakfast foods that can help stimulate a healthy atmosphere in your mouth. Healthy teeth are a result of consuming healthy foods and drinks such as milk, green tea, yogurt, raisins, cheese, and crunchy fruits and vegetables. Also, drinks with calcium not only strengthen bones, but also ensure healthy teeth.

Drs. Ali & Ali and their team at Wellesley Dental Group will be more than happy to answer your questions, thoughts, or concerns about oral health or the significance of a healthy breakfast. Feel free to contact us today at 781-237-9071 or


Maternal Smoking Can Cause Cleft-Lip in Babies

January 29th, 2014

pregnant womanIn the United States alone, there is a 1/750 chance that a baby is born with isolated, also called non-syndromic, cleft lip and/or palate. While this condition can be corrected through various surgeries, families of the child with this condition can be inundated both emotionally and economically. Throughout the world, there are about 12 million women each year who smoke through pregnancies. About one in every 600 U.S. babies is born with a cleft lip and/or palate. The American Journal of Human Genetics published results from a study done at the University of Iowa demonstrating that if a pregnant woman smokes 16 cigarettes or more per day, the chances of her GSTT1-lacking fetus developing a cleft increase 20 fold.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have found through an international study that some babies are predisposed to cleft lip and/or palate because of their inability to detoxify and process cigarette smoke. The study showed that the fetuses lacking both copies of a gene used to thwart the smoke and have mothers who smoked during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cleft lip. These scientists have compiled a last of 16 genes that are directly related in cigarette smoke toxicity and determined whether variations of these genes would influence a baby’s ability to remove the toxins. The researchers found that the GSTT1 gene made a significant contribution to clefting; this gene is responsible for 20 different enzymes in the body, specifically essential for common detoxification processes. The study also found that 60 percent of babies with Asian ancestry and 25 percent of babies of European ancestry do not possess copies of the gene called GSTT1. Without this gene, the baby is unable to eliminate the toxins from the smoke that has been spread across the placenta.

During any stage of life, it is always important to make healthy choices. A poor health decision is not always specific to one location in the body, but can very well affect many different areas of the body. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions!

Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation.


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