Does Your Genetics Influence Your Oral Health?

Woman getting mouth swab

Having good oral health and having that great smile doesn’t just come by chance. In many ways, it takes a good oral routine and regular visits to keep that smile healthy. But many times, patients have come asking whether or not their family history and genetics play a role in their teeth. For people who have malocclusion, it appears to be the case. In cases of those with cavities and gum disease, the possibilities are less clear than we’d like. As much as we’d all like to know about the risks associated with our genetics, there are many factors that play into your oral health. Genetics can determine several factors, but not all of them.

The Roles of Genetics in Your Smile

Some conditions are indeed affected by genetics – when the tooth develops during the gestational process (30 days), many conditions can arise during the growth process and end when we’re 19, as that’s when our wisdom teeth fully erupt. Developmental issues such as hypodontia, cleft palettes, and anodontia are considered genetic defects that either cause missing teeth, missing enamel, or misshapen the mouth in some way. These conditions are considered genetic due to how they most often occur during the gestation period.

However, when you bring in the topic of genetic with other conditions, such as malocclusion, gum disease, and cavities, the answers become less clear. How genetics impacts oral health hasn’t been studied as consistently, but studies from the NIH report that our environmental factors and biological makeup can influence our dental health and that these health characteristics share common biology with dental diseases.

  • In cases of mild malocclusion such as overbites and underbites, these conditions are also considered hereditary, but not completely. Environmental factors can also play into the development of malocclusion, such as sucking one’s thumb as a child or having a terrible accident. So, when it comes to misaligned teeth, it highly depends on the individual for understanding what caused their condition.
  • According to the ADA, there are no genetic tests for gum disease and cavities. Cavities and gum disease are usually caused by environmental factors, such as bacteria developing in the mouth due to poor dental hygiene and insufficient nutrition.
  • In many rarer cases, conditions such as Apert’s Syndrome and Down Syndrome can experience genetic dental conditions, such as a larger tongue, delayed tooth eruption, and overcrowding.

How To Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Despite what your genetics may say, you still have a lot of power to control how you care for your teeth. Brushing and flossing twice a day will help you keep up your personal care routine and allow you to determine your overall health. Visiting your dentist at least twice throughout the year and changing up your diet will also have an impact. Nevertheless, even if your family history may have an impact, your dentist will surely be able to help you with your smile and keep it healthy long-term.