Do Genetics Play a Role in the Overall Health of Teeth?

We inherit many things from our ancestors, and some can have a devastating effect on dental health. A child’s first visit with the dentist should occur around the age of twelve months. This visit may help to identify serious dental conditions, whether inherited or not, and outline the treatment to resolve the problem.

The most serious dental conditions that can be passed on include physical deformities like cleft palate; in other patients primary teeth develop normally, but permanent teeth do not develop. This condition can impact a few teeth, but in some cases all teeth fail to develop and erupt.

There are inherited disorders that produce hormonal and mineral imbalances that impact dental enamel resulting in it flaking off. While this may not sound like a huge deal, we rely on dental enamel to protect the interior dentin so exposure can result in zinging sensations and appearance changes.

The amount of jaw space and the size of teeth is not something that can be controlled. When teeth try to emerge where there is insufficient jaw room, the result is a malocclusion (where top teeth do not properly align with bottom teeth). This can produce an over bite, under bite, or cross bite. These bite issues are not just cosmetic, and your dentist has solutions.

Palatal expanders can increase upper jaw space; teeth extraction can allow remaining teeth to be shifted to a correct occlusion. Dental braces may be needed to complete this task.

Other dental conditions that may be passed on through the generations again can be the result of hormones and body minerals including canker sores; if a person inherits the genes that are present in cancer sufferers, oral cancer may occur. Lifestyle habits such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, or illicit drug use can play a big role in the development of oral cancer as well.

There are other problems that may be passed on such as periodontal conditions; but there are actions the individual can take to improve the odds of defeating gum disease.

A daily oral regimen of flossing and brushing with a fluoridated tooth paste; shun tobacco use; limit sugary snacks and beverages that contribute to plaque build-up; and visit our dental team twice per year for a complete cleaning and exam … all will contribute to healthy teeth and gums for life.