Your parents may have played a role in your hair color or skin tone, but can you thank them or blame them for the health of your teeth? Yes and no. While genetics do play a role in some dental conditions, most times how we care for our mouth is a much bigger factor than genetics. We take a closer role at how some dental conditions can be brought on by unlucky genes, and how to best care for your mouth no matter what type of family dental history you have.
Dental Conditions Caused By Genetics
Here’s a look at a few dental conditions that can have hereditary causes:
- Gum Disease – Roughly 30 percent of the population may be genetically predisposed to gum disease. If you know that periodontal gum disease runs in your family, bring it up to your dentist.
- Tooth Decay – According to dental experts, certain variations of the gene beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) have been linked to a greater risk of developing cavities in your adult teeth. Again, it’s helpful to bring this to the attention of your dentist.
- Oral Cancer – If you have a family history of oral cancer, you may be at an increased risk for developing cancer as well. That being said, tobacco use is a much bigger risk factor for eventual cancer onset than family history.
- The Need For Braces – Finally, your need for braces may be caused by your ancestors. Genetics play a role in the size of your jaw, which in turn can lead to things like tooth crowding, overbites and underbites.
Protecting Your Teeth Is Key
No matter whether your family has never had a cavity or if they all had braces growing up, it is very important to practice good oral hygiene, have a healthy diet and avoid activities like smoking or excessive alcohol use that can contribute to oral issues. We’ve found that one thing that families can ensure they pass down to one another is a good dental hygiene routine. This means having your kids regularly brush their teeth at an early age, flossing daily and avoiding excessive amounts of sugary drinks that can contribute to tooth decay.
If you start your child with a good dental hygiene program early in life, they will be more likely to continue to care for their teeth on their own. Also, be sure to talk to them about the dangers of smoking and chewing tobacco, as these can stain teeth, contribute to gum disease and even lead to the onset of cancer.
You may not have won the genetic lottery, but when it comes to your teeth, that really doesn’t matter, because a good oral hygiene plan is much more important than your genetics. Be sure to care for your teeth every day and pass on good oral health habits to your kids so your family can have great teeth for generations to come! For more information about genetics and your teeth, reach out to Dr. Brooks today.
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