We inherit a lot from our parents. We often look the same and, in many cases, act the same because of genes passed down from generation to generation. These genes can make it more likely that we’ll be a certain way – even down to how healthy we’ll be.
Are dental problems and unhealthy teeth some of the things that can be inherited? Put another way, if you have dental problems, is it more likely that your children will have problems with their teeth?
Exploring the Genetic Nature of Oral Health
It’s a known fact that the good or bad oral hygiene habits of your parents can be passed down to you. If your parents took good care of their teeth, they probably taught you to do the same. And if they didn’t, you may not have great oral hygiene habits.
But that’s not genetic, or passed down in our genes. That’s learned behavior. What we want to know is this: can we inherit dental issues?
The answer is simple: yes, we can. And we do.
There is a direct link between getting certain oral health conditions and who your parents are. Even if you practice good habits, you can still come down with conditions affecting your mouth just because your parents passed those genes along to you.
Gum disease (or periodontal disease), for example, can be a result of poor hygiene. But you are at a higher risk of having gum disease if your parents did. In fact, nearly a third of the population has a genetic predisposition toward gum disease. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be avoided, or can’t be treated. You should tell your dentist, though, if your parents or their parents had gum disease.
How often you get cavities can also be genetic. There’s a certain variation of a particular type of gene that can lead to greater risk of getting cavities, largely because it weakens the enamel or affects the remineralization process by which your body “heals” tooth enamel.
Even how your teeth are aligned can be genetic. It’s very common to see parents with misaligned teeth have children who grow up with misaligned teeth – often the same misalignment. If your parents had braces as a kid, you may have had them as well – and your children may have to have them.
Getting Treated for Genetic Dental Problems
Fortunately, all of the above conditions can be treated. Your dentist can help you treat periodontal disease, misaligned teeth, or cavities. And you can avoid or reduce the chance of getting these conditions with proper oral hygiene.
You may not be able to do anything about your eye color or your height, but you can do something about your teeth and gums – and that’s great news.
Jackson Center for Smiles provides friendly dentistry services to the greater Jackson, Mississippi area. Make an appointment and let us help you take care of your teeth.