Your genes shape you in so many ways — from eye color to height. They also impact your mouth, but does that mean you can blame bad dental health on genetics?
Your genes shape so much of what makes you you, from the color of your eyes to your height. Could genetics also be responsible for your oral health? Do certain genes increase the likelihood you’ll develop cavities and gum disease?
Genes dictate the shape of your jaw and whether your teeth are crooked or straight. Crooked teeth are more vulnerable to decay, so in that instance, your genes could put you at a disadvantage when fighting cavities. Yet your oral health is affected more by environmental factors and lifestyle than your genes. A dentist at Espire Dental can discuss with you how to maintain a healthy mouth — even if you have inherited some bad genes that could negatively affect your oral health.
Your Genes & Oral Health
There have been a number of scientific studies done on genetics, with current research pointing to genetics behind some oral problems. For example, some people are born with missing teeth, a condition known as anodontia. Typically, the missing teeth are upper lateral incisors and lower premolars. A dentist can devise a treatment plan to close the gap or replace the missing teeth with prosthetic ones.
The color of your teeth may also be set by your genes. If you have yellow teeth, it could be because you developed a thinner layer of protective enamel. But it could also result from excessive fluoride application and drinking too much coffee or tea. As such, your health habits may be giving your teeth their yellow tinge more so than your genes.
Even crooked teeth are not completely the fault of genetics. The alignment of a person’s teeth is set at birth, but if they suck their thumb as a baby or have a habit of thrusting their tongue forward, their teeth may end up misaligned.
And now, what about gum disease and tooth decay — are those related to genes? If you’ve inherited thinner enamel, your teeth will be more susceptible to decay and cavities. Studies have shown a genetic component in periodontal disease and dental caries, as well. Yet those same studies emphasize gum disease and tooth decay are overwhelmingly caused by bacteria and plaque that build up in your mouth when you consume too much sugar and don’t practice good dental hygiene. In other words, you control the level of bacteria and plaque in your mouth — not your genes.
Although there may be a small component of oral health related to genetics, the more influential factors are based on environment and lifestyle. Smoking, eating sugar foods, and neglecting your dental health determine to a greater degree whether your teeth are healthy or not.
What You — Not Your Genes — Can Do for Your Teeth
The American Dental Association cautions there is no predictive genetic test for dental disease at this time. This means that you have no way of knowing if your genes have dealt you a bad hand in your oral health. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter because you can control the larger factor in your oral health — and requires taking care of your teeth on a daily basis.
Brush & Floss Daily. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day clears away decay-causing bacteria. Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.
Skip the Sugar. Avoid sweets and sugar-laden drinks that promote the growth of bacteria and plaque in the mouth, both of which lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Better choices are apples, pears, and leafy greens. Instead of soda, sip water: It washes away bacteria and keeps you hydrated.
Get Orthodontic Work. Crooked or missing teeth can be painful and increase your risk of decay. But with so many orthodontic procedures available today — from braces to tooth implants — you can straighten your teeth, have a healthy mouth, and a great smile.
See Your Dentist Regularly. Even if you diligently brush and floss, dental problems are going to develop. Those twice-yearly visits to the dentist can spot early signs of decay and fix them immediately before they become major issues like tooth loss.
Your Dental Health Depends on You!
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Fort Collins location today! Our highly trained dentists can show you how to care for your teeth so you don’t have to visit us too often! Don’t live near our Fort Collins, Colorado office? Find one of our other locations near you.
2117 Custer Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80525