Do genetics play a role in the overall health of teeth?

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Do cavities or other dental conditions seem to run in your family? It’s probably not your imagination. Genetic factors can influence the health of your teeth and gums.

In fact, your dentist may review your family history of oral diseases with you to see if there are any conditions for which you may face a higher risk. There appears to be a genetic component to gum disease, as well as to jaw deformities and conditions that may contribute to crowding of the teeth. Families may also share a tendency to have thinner enamel, which makes their teeth seem “softer” than normal.

Your family members can influence your oral health in ways that go beyond your DNA, as well. For example, studies have shown significant similarities among the oral bacteria found in cavities in close family members, who may swap these bacteria when sharing meals from the same plate or kissing.

Additionally, if your parents don’t demonstrate healthy oral hygiene behaviors to you and encourage you to maintain good habits and take you to regular appointments with your dentist, you’re less likely to develop a good regimen on your own.

…a good dental hygiene routine is a must for all patients, regardless of their family’s history of oral health problems.

While genetics can affect your oral health, bad genes don’t necessarily automatically mean that you’ll get more cavities or develop gum disease. It’s important to know what steps to take to protect your oral health if you do face an increased likelihood of problems due to genetics.

Obviously, a good dental hygiene routine is a must for all patients, regardless of their family’s history of oral health problems. If you have “soft” teeth or come from a family that is more prone to gum disease, it’s even more critical that you brush and floss adequately to minimize the presence of oral bacteria.

Patients with known genetic factors that affect their oral health should also be extra conscientious about visiting their dentist at least every six months. Regular checkups give dentists a chance to diagnose and begin treating oral disease at their earliest stages before they cause extensive damage.

We encourage our patients to be aware of genetic factors that can contribute to oral health problems and bring them to the dentist’s attention. Feel free to bring up this subject at your next appointment. Contact our team at Anderson Dentistry today to schedule your visit.