You can probably look at old photos of your parents and recognize what features you got from each. Maybe you got your mother’s eyes or your father’s smile. But are you also born with your parents’ dental issues? If your parents had poor dental health, then you will most likely have problems too. While it’s true some of your oral health is a direct result of your DNA, much of it is up to you.
Hereditary Dental Issues Factors
Your genes affect your oral health, the size and shape of your mouth, and bone structure. Your ancestors pass down issues like overcrowded or crooked teeth. The same applies to the size of your jawbone which can lead to problems with your bite or issues with your jaw joints.
1. Misaligned (Crooked) Teeth
If you had braces, your siblings also probably needed them. Genetics are a major factor in the shape of your face and the size of your jaw. Misaligned or crooked teeth can cause crowding, gaps, overbites and underbites, and food to get trapped between teeth, resulting in the growth of bacteria, which can cause cavities and gum disease.
2. Tooth Color
Tooth color is determined by a combination of your genes and environment. People whose teeth develop naturally with thinner enamel generally have teeth that appear more yellow, although this can also be a consequence of losing enamel as you age.
3. Tooth Decay
Just as you should discuss with your family doctor if your parents have a history of health issues like heart disease, be sure to tell your dentist if your parents had a greater risk of cavities in their adult teeth. Certain variations of genes are linked to a greater risk of cavities. Adults with a high risk of tooth decay may benefit from prescription toothpastes or mouth rinses.
4. Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
Up to 30% of the population may be genetically predisposed to gum disease. If you experience symptoms like sensitivity and inflammation, see your dentist. If left untreated, gum disease can eventually cause tooth and bone loss.
5. Oral Cancer
Every year, oral cancer is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans every year. Although tobacco and alcohol use are the highest risk factors for developing the disease, people with certain genetic markers have a higher risk than normal. You can lower your risk by quitting tobacco, cutting back on alcohol, and eating a healthy, nutritious diet.
Dental Issues Are Often a Result of Bad Habits
Dental problems such as gum disease and tooth decay are almost entirely preventable and are largely due not to your genes but your own oral hygiene practice. Even if you have “bad teeth”, there is a lot you can do to help them be as healthy as possible; a good oral hygiene regimen can prevent cavities and gum disease.
See Your Dentist for Checkups
With smart preventative oral care and visiting your dentist twice a year for checkups, you can significantly reduce the risk of the genetic factors that cause “bad teeth” and can help you keep your mouth healthy and avoid problems. Exams at least every six months give your dentist a chance to provide advice on caring for your teeth and allows him or her to detect oral health problems early, when they’re most treatable.
Your association and ASBA offer an excellent Dental Plan with low deductibles and high maximums. This plan gives you coverage with over 400,000 in-network providers nationwide and includes savings on checkups, fillings, and many procedures. Sign up now at www.ambabenefits.com/asba-cm or call (877) 810-6339.