The genes you inherit from your parents play a role in many of your traits, including your hair color, your eye color, your height, your dimples (or lack thereof), and your likelihood of developing a variety of diseases – from diabetes and heart disease to Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. But what about your oral health? Can you inherit bad teeth?
Can You Inherit Bad Teeth?
If you suffer from tooth decay or yellow, crooked teeth, you may be tempted to blame your parents. But can you inherit bad teeth? As with many aspects of your health, both genetics and lifestyle habits play a role in your oral health. Fortunately, even if your parents had many cavities, tooth decay is almost entirely preventable. Let’s dig a little deeper and explore which aspects of your dental health have been influenced by your genes and which are all you:
Your Oral Microbiome
The microbes that make up your mouth are inherited from your parents, but those microbes don’t actually cause cavities. In a study of both fraternal and identical twins, researchers found that cavity-forming bacteria were picked up through poor lifestyle choices, not inherited at birth (source). That means that you have the power to reduce your risk of cavities! Limit your sugar intake, brush and floss regularly, and schedule dental appointments twice a year to keep tooth decay at bay.
Your Sweet Tooth
Your genes may influence your preference for sweets. And of course, if you’re frequently snacking on candies and ice cream, you’re more likely to have poor dental health. So the stronger your genetic preference for sweet treats, the more likely you are to suffer from tooth decay (source). If you have a strong sweet tooth, try to swap your dessert for fruit as often as you can. In addition, be vigilant about your brushing and flossing routine.
Your Tooth Alignment
Genes can play a role in the alignment of your teeth and may cause crowding, an overbite, an underbite, or other issues. A crooked smile isn’t just an aesthetic concern either; it can also influence your oral health, as we’ve discussed previously. Straight teeth reduce your likelihood of developing tooth decay (because it’s easier to brush and floss straight teeth), and crooked teeth may lead to poor sleep habits or frequent headaches. Fortunately, you can straighten out a crooked smile with the help of an orthodontist.
Your Enamel Strength
If you’re genetically predisposed to softer tooth enamel, your teeth will have a tough time shielding themselves against tooth decay. As the enamel wears away over time, your teeth may also appear yellower and duller. Does this mean that your smile is destined to be yellow and full of cavities? Should you give up hope and throw away your toothbrush? Absolutely not. On the contrary, it means that it’s especially important that you maintain a good oral health routine. You have the power to keep your smile bright, beautiful, and healthy.
Your oral health depends on a combination of genetics and dental hygiene, so don’t slack off when it comes to brushing and flossing just because your parents had a lot of cavities. And of course, if your parents have perfectly healthy teeth, that doesn’t mean you should feel free to eat loads of sugary treats and throw away your floss. Whether you’re predisposed to poor oral health or not, it’s important to take care of your teeth.
If you live near Springfield, Missouri, and you’re looking for a new dentist, contact Wilkinson Dental. Your comfort and oral health are our top priorities. If you’re ready to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or schedule one online. We look forward to hearing from you!