You were flipping through a family photo album, grinning at your childhood memories and relatives, when you noticed a common trend. Slightly disturbed, you leaned forward and analyzed the toothy smile of one of your great aunts. Sure enough, her dental issues resembled many of your other relatives. This begs the question: Can bad teeth run in the family? Here are a few reasons why your teeth may be predisposed to dental problems and what to do about it.
Why Dental Issues Are Often Genetic
Certain hereditary defects, such as weakened tooth enamel or crooked teeth, can be passed down from relative to relative. Heredity can also impact your saliva production and your predisposition to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, which can affect glucose levels in your saliva. Similarly, your immune system’s strength may be influenced by your genes, making warding off dental illnesses such as gum disease difficult. All of this combined can make maintaining optimal dental health more challenging, but not impossible, for many patients.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Inheriting crooked teeth, weak enamel, or a high sugar level in your saliva can predispose you to tooth decay. Sometimes, the inherited shape and depth of crevices in your teeth can create a breeding ground for cavities. To protect their teeth, patients may seek a straightening treatment such as Invisalign to make brushing easier and more effective. Some patients can benefit from using prescription toothpaste and mouthwashes between bi-yearly cleanings.
What to Do About Gum Disease
Gum disease is a common health risk for nearly 30% of patients. If you’ve experienced heightened sensitivity or inflammation of your gums, this condition may be developing. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and jawbone reduction. This can be painful and costly to restore. By monitoring your gum health and seeing a dentist regularly to catch any health risks, you can quickly and efficiently treat the early stages of gum disease.
How to Strengthen Your Teeth
While not always genetic, some families pass on eating habits that can introduce health risks that can weaken your teeth. For example, diets high in sugar, carbohydrates, and hard-to-chew foods such as steak, may make you more vulnerable to tooth loss. By incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products into your diet, you can provide your teeth with the nutrients, fiber, and healthy bacteria they need to support a strong smile. Adopting a more nutritious diet and quitting habits such as teeth grinding and smoking can immensely boost your oral health, no matter your genetic predispositions.
While “bad teeth” may be genetic, they don’t have to be your destiny. Adopting new healthy habits and remaining proactive can help you overcome most of your genetic dental challenges.
About the Author
Dr. Branimir Vatavuk is an approachable and talented dentist serving the Palo Alto community. As a father of two, Dr. Vatavuk understands the significance of providing high-quality dental care to families and individuals of all ages. If you have questions about how your family’s dental history may be affecting the quality and health of your pearly whites, feel free to contact him through his website or by calling (650) 328-7333.