Is Oral Health Genetic?

mother_daughter brushing teeth together

Dental issues can run in the family, so it helps to be aware of any increased risk you may face. You may need to step up your oral care, because genetics can play an important role, but they don’t determine everything.

How are genetics related to tooth decay?

Genetics can increase your risk of getting many diseases, and researchers have determined that your oral health is no exception. Certain variations of a specific gene (beta-defensin 1) are linked to a higher risk of tooth decay.

What other oral health issues are related to genetics?

In addition to tooth decay, the following oral health issues can be related to genetics:

  • Gum disease (periodontal disease) – Up to 30% of people may be at higher risk for sensitive and inflamed gums that can lead to tooth and bone loss.
  • Oral cancer – Certain gene markers can play a minor role in your tendency to develop this potentially deadly disease.
  • Misaligned teeth – Genetics can influence the size of your jaw and the probability that you’ll have crowding, gaps, or other issues as a result.
  • Cleft lip or cleft palate – This birth defect is caused when a baby's lip or mouth doesn't form properly during pregnancy. You’re more likely to be born with it if your parents were as well, and you’re also at higher risk if you’re of Asian, Latino, or Native American descent.

How can you keep your mouth healthy even if you’re facing issues related to genetics?

Although particular genes can increase the chances that you’ll have a particular oral health issue, they’re not the only determining factor. Environmental and lifestyle factors play a larger role in your oral health than genetics do, and these are under your control.

If your relatives are prone to tooth decay, gum disease, misaligned teeth, or other issues, you may want to step up your oral care routine to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding these problems.

The following tips will help you improve your oral health, no matter what your genetic tendencies are:

  • Mention any family oral health issues to your dentist for additional tips and monitoring.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and exams.
  • Brush at least twice daily for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss once a day.
  • Stop using tobacco.
  • Cut back on alcohol consumption.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Seek early orthodontic treatment for your child.

To learn more about how genetics can influence your oral health and what you can do to counteract this impact, call Dental365 at 844-365-DENTAL or just stop by one of our many convenient locations throughout New York City and surrounding areas. Our top dentists and specialists are available 7 days a week, with or without an appointment, and we have extended weekday hours. We’re also available for emergency services.

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