How Genetics Affect Your Teeth
by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 10/5/2022
Genetics decides factors like your hair color, eyesight, and your height, but did you know your genes can affect your teeth, too? Learn how genetics can influence the health of your teeth and how you can keep them healthy.
Shape, Space, Color, and Alignment of Your Teeth
The shape of your teeth, how much space is between them, their alignment, and what color they are, is influenced by your genetics. If crooked, overcrowded teeth are predominant in your family, it’s highly likely you may experience the same issue.
Fortunately, your dentist has solutions to fix these genetic dental issues. A custom crown can cover a misshapen tooth, whitening services can brighten yellow teeth, dental implants can fill gaps in between teeth, and braces or Invisalign can straighten crooked teeth.
While these treatments can be done at any age, the younger you start the better the results. This is why it's critical to schedule regular dentist appointments for children beginning as soon as their teeth start to come in.
During your children’s or your dental appointment, discuss your family’s predominant dental history with your dentist so they can prepare a preventative course of action or provide a suite of solutions.
Risk of Gingivitis
Genetics can also make you predisposed to gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. If left untreated it can become periodontitis; a serious gum disease that leads to tooth loss. However, genetics is only one factor in experiencing gingivitis. Practicing good dental habits like brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and going to regular dental exams can help lower your risk of experiencing gingivitis.
Lifestyle choices such as smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol can lead to oral cancer. As with any cancer, genetics influences your chances of experiencing it. If cancer runs in your family, inform your dentist so they can schedule regular X-rays which will help detect early symptoms and track the health of your gums and teeth.
Some families have weak teeth due to lack of calcium or other genetic conditions. Symptoms of weak teeth include sensitivity, discoloring, cracks, worn-down enamel and pain while eating. Weak teeth can be strengthened through prescription fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Your dentist may also recommend professional fluoride treatments to strengthen your enamel.
Tooth Decay and Cavities
Last but not least, experiencing tooth decay and cavities may be part of your genetic makeup. Research from University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine suggests, “60% of the risk for tooth decay appears to be due to genetic factors.” For example, some individuals may be more likely to crave sweets. The more sugar you expose your teeth to, the more likely you may develop cavities and decay, especially if you do not practice healthy dental hygiene habits.
Basic Healthy Dental Habits
If you're concerned about the impacts of genetics on your teeth, it helps to be proactive. As a reminder, here are some basic tips to keep your teeth as healthy as possible:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Floss at least once a day
- Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods
- Get semi-annual dental checkups
Keep Your Teeth Healthy With a Kimball & Beecher Dentist
Don’t give up on a healthy smile, even if your genetics make you predisposed to dental issues. The experienced and compassionate Kimball & Beecher dentists will work with you to develop a preventive course of action or a treatment plan. Schedule an appointment with a Kimball & Beecher dentist today.