Perhaps you owe your eyes to your dad, your hair to your mom, and your sense of humor to your grandma. But what about your teeth? Can you blame your parents if you develop cavities or gum disease? Should you be thanking them for the bright color of your pearly whites? Do genetics affect your teeth at all?
Do Genetics Affect Your Teeth?
So, do genetics affect your teeth? The short answer is yes, they do. They can impact the color of your teeth, their crookedness, and much more. But it’s important to note that genetics are just one factor when it comes to your oral health, and some oral health conditions don’t have a genetic component at all. Let’s explore some facts.
Some genetic defects and hereditary conditions can impact the oral cavity.
One of the most common dental genetic abnormalities is hypodontia, a condition in which a person is missing one to five teeth from birth (not including wisdom teeth). It affects 1 in every 18 people. Some less common genetic oral abnormalities include amelogenesis imperfecta (a disorder that results in defective or missing tooth enamel), dentinogenesis imperfecta (a condition that causes tooth discoloration and weakness), cleft lip and palate (improper formation of the mouth, lips, or both), and anodontia (the complete absence of teeth).
In addition to conditions that specifically impact the teeth and mouth, there are other hereditary conditions that can influence the oral cavity. For example, Down syndrome is associated with partial anodontia, delayed teeth eruption, and an enlarged tongue. Other examples include Klinefelter syndrome, Apert syndrome, Mohr syndrome, and Tricho-Dento-Osseous syndrome.
Genetics impact several factors that play a role in tooth decay.
Looking beyond specific diseases and conditions, several factors influenced by genetics can increase or decrease your likelihood of developing tooth decay:
- Sweet Tooth: Do you have a rabid sweet tooth? You might have gotten it from your parents. Specific gene variants have certain “sweet preferences.” And, of course, people who eat more sugary sweets are more prone to tooth decay.
- Tooth Enamel: Due to their genes, some people simply have softer tooth enamel than others. Bacteria have an easier time attacking soft enamel, which can lead to cavities.
- Taste Ability: “Taste ability” measures the variety of things you can taste, and it’s linked to both your tongue and your sense of smell. Researchers have found that the greater the variety of a person’s taste ability, the less likely they are to develop tooth decay. Why? We don’t know exactly, but taste ability is impacted by genetics.
- Saliva Strength: Saliva, which is influenced by your genes, is critical to your oral health. It can help wash away bacteria, and it contains vital elements like calcium and potassium.
- Microbiome: Believe it or not, communities of bacteria live within your body. Together, they make up your personal microbiome. These bacteria are impacted by your genes, and they also affect your risk of developing tooth decay.
So you see, it’s not quite as simple as “you inherited cavity-prone teeth.” All of these inherited factors play a part in your oral health.
Don’t discount the role of personal behavior when it comes to oral health.
Although genetic factors may contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, personal behavior still plays an enormous role in their development, so don’t even think about using your genetics as an excuse to avoid flossing! Brushing, flossing, visiting the dentist, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco products can all have a profound impact on oral health. And if you’re predisposed to any dental problems due to your genetics, that’s just one more reason to be vigilant about your personal oral health routine.
Although some dental issues do run in the family, you certainly can’t blame everything on your parents. Many dental issues are entirely preventable with proper oral hygiene. Speaking of which, when was the last time you visited the dentist?
If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!