Can Oral Health Issues Be Genetic?
Does the oral health of your ancestors have any bearing on how strong or crooked your teeth are, your potential to develop gum disease, or even how easy it is for you to get cavities? While most dental problems are usually a result of choices you’ve made and habits you’ve acquired, the answer is yes, some traits can be passed down from generation to generation. Here are a few that have been shown to run in families:
Being Cavity Prone — Even with regular brushing and flossing, you could still be prone to cavities due to your genetics. There is a gene variation that has been linked to a greater risk for cavities in permanent teeth.
Oral Cancer Risk — Oral cancers are so deadly because they are often not caught until they are well developed. While lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use, alcohol use, and diet are the major causal factors, there are genetic markers that indicate a higher risk for oral cancer.
Cleft Lip or Palate Tendencies — This birth defect is more likely to occur in children of parents who also had cleft lip or palate, as well as certain ethnic groups, including Asians, American Indians, and Latinos, which seems to indicate genes as a major factor.
Crooked Teeth — If you see crooked teeth when you look in the mirror, the odds are others in your family do as well. Genetics plays a role in the shape and size of your face, which, in turn, plays a role in whether there is enough room for teeth.
Periodontal Disease — Researchers have found that almost one-third of the population may be predisposed to gum disease due to their genes. One gene, when activated, could raise the risk to 70 percent. You are also at a greater risk of gum disease if your family has a history of immune deficiencies.
Fortunately, regular checkups, along with proper diet and dental care routines, can help turn around most of these oral health conditions. Call our office today and together we can come up with treatment plans that will allow you to enjoy a beautiful and healthy smile — no matter what your genes have in store for you.
Dr. Fara Afshar