Genetics and Dental Health


Are Genetics and Teeth Trouble Related?

Could bad genes be the cause for your cavities, tooth decay and other dental health problems? While genetics may be responsible for some of your teeth trouble, you may be surprised to learn about which factors impacting oral health are hereditary vs. behavioral. So, before you blame your parents for your dental woes, please check out the dental industry’s research and finding about the link between genetics and teeth below.

Tooth Decay: No

Studies show that behavioral– NOT genetic – factors are primarily responsible for tooth decay.  So, in this case,  consuming too many sugary drinks and drinking water with not enough fluoride are to blame for your tooth decay – not your family tree.

Enamel Issues: Yes

Go ahead. Blame your parents for your weak tooth enamel, an inherited trait that can start as early as in utero! Soft or weak enamel increases the chances of bacteria penetrating the teeth, causing cavities and decay. Thinner tooth enamel also gives teeth a more yellowish appearance. Thanks a lot, Mom & Dad! L

Crooked Teeth: Yes and No

This one is a combo! Both genes and our environment can lead to crooked teeth. Factors such as the size of our jaw, our bite, and alignment of the lips and gums are genetic.  However, behavioral elements such as thumb sucking or teeth grinding can further contribute to misalignment. Whatever the ratio, orthodontists are thankful for the confluence of genetic and outside factors that lead to crooked teeth in families.

Gum Disease: Yes

Research shows that periodontal disease is, in fact, influenced by heredity – and up to 30% of the population may be affected! In some cases, our genetics impact the amount of cytokines (or proteins) we secrete that can influence inflammation and immunity response. Our genes can also predispose us to early onset of gum disease. While genetics is largely to blame, your diligence in brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly can help keep gum disease at bay!

Oral Cancer: No

In rare circumstances, certain genetic mutations can cause oral cancer. However our  lifestyle habits and choices have the most influence on our risk for contracting oral cancer. For example, about 80% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are tobacco users or heavy drinkers. That’s why it’s SO important to practice healthy lifestyle choices and to model these good choices for your kids!

Dr. E wants to remind everyone that healthy habits DO run in the family–genetics and teeth problems can in fact be related! Ensure that you and your children practice proper oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly.

Contact Dr. E Cosmetic & Family Dentistry today for your family’s dental well checks! 480-494-2435

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