Gum Disease in Families

Periodontal Disease and Heredity

As clinicians, we are often confronted by patients who simply seem to be more susceptible to periodontal damage. Many of our patients comment that their parents or siblings have also had periodontal problems. This is no coincidence. Current studies suggest that periodontal disease is influenced by heredity, so your genetic makeup truly does have the potential to make you more susceptible to periodontitis.

Aggressive Periodontitis is a condition where patients rapidly lose bone around selected teeth. In some cases it can affect all of the teeth. For many years it has been observed that this largely occurs in families and can be traced through generations. Abnormal genes were first isolated for this condition in the 1980s.

According to one recent study, genetic factors may play a critical role in half the cases of periodontal disease. Up to 30% of the population may have some genetic susceptibility to periodontal disease. For example, some people with severe periodontal disease have genetic factors that affect the immune factor interleukin-1 (IL-1), a cytokine involved in the inflammatory response. Such individuals are up to 20 times more likely to develop advanced periodontitis than those without these genetic factors. Early onset and rapidly progressive periodontal disease also have strong genetic components.

Recently, using more modern DNA techniques, susceptibilities have been linked to the adult form of periodontitis. A commercially available test has recently been developed to test for genetic susceptibility. We advise this test when patients tell us they have several family members with periodontal problems. Positive test results often influence the way you are treated.

If you think that you have a heredity factor, please contact our office for further diagnosis, advice and treatment.