Even if you love or hate your smile, your parents are not completely responsible!
It’s easy to look at genetics as the cause for mostly everything about our bodies. They determine our looks, risk factors and predispositions for certain diseases, even our smiles. Researchers have recently been examining the link between poor oral health and the genes we receive from our parents to determine just how much of our smile is out of our hands. Turns out, even when considering genetics, we play the best and final role in determining our oral health!
Some people have an increased risk for tooth decay simply because of their genetics. Researchers found that people whose parents had tooth decay were also more prone to cavities. This means that even if you eat well, brush at least twice a day and floss, you could still have a greater chance of developing cavities than someone who has worse oral care habits than you. For people with this genetic makeup, it is even that much more important to have great oral care habits and to see your dentist regularly because you have to monitor your smile a little bit harder than people who aren’t prone to cavities.
Teeth Size and Shape
Did you notice when you were growing up that a lot of your friends didn’t have braces? It turns out that teeth size and shape is the result of genetics. This means that if your parents had crooked, small or crowded teeth, there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with these problems as well. You might have to wear Invisalign or braces as an adolescent or possibly in the future (if you haven’t remedied these issues yet), while your friends with different genes get to have a straight smile without any additional work.
Nearly 50 percent of all Americans suffer from gum disease, and this part of the population may have been more likely to get the disease based on their genetic risk factors. People who have poor immune responses, or have a family history of autoimmune disorders, have a greater chance of developing gum disease. If you have a poor immune response (i.e. get sick often), you will have to more closely examine your oral health, so make sure your dental team is aware and that you’re visiting them often.
While there are clearly genetic factors that influence your smile, you cannot completely blame genetics for your dental health. You play a huge factor in the health of your smile just by taking care of your teeth. Make sure to brush, floss, eat healthy, don’t use tobacco products, and see your hygienist and dentist for regularly scheduled cleanings, exams and X-rays.
It is clear that genetics play a huge role in our dental health, but you, and the care you give your teeth, have greater influence on the overall health of your teeth and gums. By taking the very best care of your smile, and seeing your hygienist and dentist, you can overcome your less than desirable genes (thanks mom and dad!) and have a healthy, happy smile!