Your genes are powerful. Not only do your genes impact the way you look, but there is widespread evidence that your genetic makeup can also put you at risk for specific health conditions and diseases. But what about your teeth? Did you know that there are studies that report a connection between your genes and certain aspects of your oral health? You may have inherited that gapped smile from your father, but your risk for gum disease may also be greater due to genes your mother passed down. Here’s a closer look at what you may be able to blame your parents for when it comes to your dental health.
While you can’t always point fingers at your mom and dad for your “sweet tooth” and frequent cavities, there is evidence that suggest that genetics play a role in how susceptible you are to tooth decay. Cavities are caused by oral bacteria that feeds on excess sugars that we consume. Acids are produced during this feeding process, which erodes tooth enamel and causes tiny holes known as cavities. Where do genetics come in? Your genes can influence how thick your enamel is and how much saliva you produce. Therefore, if your parents passed down thin enamel and low bacteria-fighting saliva production, you may be more at risk for tooth decay due to your genetics.
Another top dental health issue that can be impacted by genetics is gum disease. Experts agree that the leading contributing factor in periodontal disease is lack of oral hygiene. However, genetics doesn’t get dismissed. Family history of gum disease does seem to increase your chances of battling gum inflammation and infection. Always mention to your dentist if you have a parent or close relative with periodontal disease.
Misalignment, crowding and wide spaces within your smile can be significantly influenced by genetics. Misaligned teeth are often the result of the size of your teeth and jaw, which can be traits passed down in your family. If orthodontics seem to be a trend in your family, take a proactive approach with your child. Early orthodontics can often prevent more serious and costly misalignment issues later.
Alcohol, tobacco use and other lifestyle choices are top indicators for oral cancer. However, family history and genetics also earn their place in determining your risk for moth cancer. Just like other forms of cancer, oral cancer has genetic markers that can be identified.
Your Oral Health is Still Within Your Control
While genes can play a small or large role in your dental health problems, that doesn’t mean they are inevitable. It does mean, however, that you can use your family history of cavities, gum disease or oral cancer and take action by being more diligent in preventative dental care. At the office of Dr. Wayne Suway, we want to know about your parents’ dental health so that we can develop the most effective treatment plan to keep your mouth healthy and beautiful!