There are numerous things that can impact our oral health. Among them are genetic factors and, consequentially, family history. Studies have been performed exploring the impact of our genetic heritage on our oral health. The results are clear; poor oral health can be hereditary, sometimes in surprising ways. It’s not just the shape, size, and alignment of our teeth that are affected. Our enamel’s ability to retain its strength and resist the effects of bacteria and the acid they produce also has a genetic element. Come with us as we explore how family history can impact your smile with more than annoying relatives.
The Genetic Keys To Our Oral Health
The blueprints for our body are contained within our cells in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid, also known as DNA. This substance forms patterns of genes that define everything from our eye color to the shape and alignment of our teeth. DNA is passed on from our parents, providing us with many of the same genetic markers they carried themselves. It’s for this reason that oral health concerns tend to run in the family lines. Some of the most common oral health concerns that affect our oral health include:
- Misalignment of teeth leading to gapping
- Dental Overcrowding
- The size and shape of our mandible, or jaw
- Orientation of our bite
- TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder)
Thankfully, there’s one part of our oral health that’s completely within our control, and that’s oral hygiene. Paying attention to your family history can help you know where you need to focus your care. It can also suggest different products and treatments that you may benefit from in terms of protecting your teeth. Ensure that you’re flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash each day to give your oral health significant protection. Based on your oral health, you may discover that certain concerns need special care, such as overcrowding or misalignment. Some conditions that can be impacted by our genetic history include:
- Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease) – Even among those without a genetic predisposition to develop gum disease, this condition is very common. How common? One out of every three US adults will develop this condition at some point in their life. It’s signified by sensitive gums, brushing, and inflammation, which makes it very easy to identify. Speak to your dentist if you have a genetic history of periodontal disease.
- Tooth Decay – The most prominent cause of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene. However, there are certain families that are particularly prone to this condition. While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s also possible for this vulnerability to only affect some of the teeth.
- Weak Teeth – Poor dietary choices are a major contributor to the development of cavities, but there are other causes. Cavities can be the result of excessive use of abrasive toothpaste, for instance. They can also be the result of a genetic propensity for developing weakened enamel. Fluoride treatments and sealants can help this condition.
- Misaligned Teeth – Teeth that come in out of alignment are very easy to spot. For this reason, it’s the most commonly identified form of genetic oral health concern. Knowing that this runs in your family can help you ensure you address the concern in your children quickly. By alerting your dentist to the presence of this condition in your family, you’ll be able to start checking for treatment options early.
These four dental health concerns are those that are most frequently identified as having a congenital element.
Contact Your Dentist To Learn More
Want to know other oral health conditions that result from a genetic background? Speak to your dentist. They’ll teach you which oral health concerns to check your family for and what can be done to help.