Genetics plays a massive role in who we are and how we are built but does this apply to our teeth? Are we all doomed because our parents had bad teeth or are your bad teeth a result of not looking after them very well? Let’s discuss…
Are bad genes the cause of my gum disease?
Genetics is involved in around 50% gum disease cases. Gum disease is essentially caused by how bacteria from dental plaque interacts with your immune response and since your immune response is passed down from your parents – they may be partly to blame. However, you still need bacteria in your mouth to trigger this response – the more you skip flossing and brushing, the more damage you will cause to your gums.
Will my teeth be more susceptible to tooth decay due to genetics?
Teeth can be more susceptible to tooth decay due to genetics – but it is largely environmental. We get a lot of people saying that their teeth are weak, and they think they have inherited this from parents. This is untrue in the majority of cases. Teeth get decayed because of the dietary habits you have, not your genes. If you do not have refined sugar, you will not get tooth decay, it’s a simple as that.
However, genetics have a significant role in how effective your saliva is at washing away and neutralising the sugars you consume. This explains why some people can have a high sugar diet but still manage not to need many fillings and vice versa.
Are the size of my teeth determined by genetics?
The size of your teeth is determined by genetics and this can affect whether you experience crowding, which, in turn, determines if you need braces to straighten your teeth. This means if your parents have crooked (crowded) teeth, it is likely that you may experience these problems too.
In addition, having small teeth also means that it is quicker for decay to ruin your teeth, as there is less tooth to destroy.
Can I blame genetics for my missing teeth?
Sometimes, certain adult teeth do not come through and this has a massive genetic basis. If some of your parent’s adult teeth did not come through, it is more likely this will affect your teeth as well.
What can I do if I have bad dental genes?
Well, we obviously can’t do anything to change your genetics, but what we can do is encourage you to try harder at the ways you can prevent problems happening in the first place. It just means you must be more careful with how you live your life. Some tips here are:
- Brush twice daily and use interdental brushes/floss daily.
- Limit amount and frequency of sugar.
- Only eat sugary snack at meals times.
- Avoid smoking.
- See your dentist and hygienist regularly.
- Follow preventative regimes as instructed by your dentist/hygienist.