Oral Health and Genetics

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
November 21, 2017

Woman with her two kids using a tablet

Updated August 2021

Your genes can play a role in how you look and behave, and they can also have an impact on various aspects of your health. You’re probably already familiar with the fact that certain problems can be inherited from your parents, but can genes affect your teeth and gums, in particular? The simple answer is yes!

There are certain oral health conditions that might be linked to genetics, but there’s also no reason to feel helpless even if you are predisposed to those ailments. Continue reading to learn about some of the ways that your teeth and gums may be impacted by genetics, and to uncover some of the things you can do to reduce the risk of oral problems.

A link between genetics and oral health

To try to figure out if genes can play a role in someone’s oral health, researchers conducted a study that looked at the genetic and oral health data of over 500,000 individuals. They wanted to see if there were genes that were associated with periodontitis and cavities. 

After analyzing the data, experts found that there are genes associated with increased odds of developing cavities. They even found that genes might have an impact on the quality of a person’s saliva. So, the simple answer is that genetics may affect the health, appearance, and strength of your teeth and gums. 

Ask your family if they’ve experienced and treated any oral health problems. What you might discover is that certain ailments do run in your family and, therefore, might be a result of your genes. 

What are some oral health problems that might be caused by genetics?

Various genetic defects can impact the number of teeth in a person’s mouth, the strength of the enamel, and the shape, color, and size of the teeth.  

Some people might be at an increased risk of cavities or gum disease because of their genes. But there are other conditions, such as oral cancer, that might also be related to your genetic makeup. 

In addition to health problems, your genes may affect the alignment of your bite, and they might also determine if you’ll end up needing braces to straighten your teeth. Plus, problems like gaps between teeth or overcrowding might be the result of genetics as well. 

Pro tip: As a parent, taking your child to the dentist at an early age can help you find and treat issues like malocclusion as soon as possible. 

Remember that you do have control!

Put simply, some health problems, including those that affect your mouth, might be linked to your genes. But, whether or not you have a genetic predisposition to problems like cavities and gum disease, it’s important to keep in mind that your lifestyle also plays a role in how healthy your mouth is. In other words, try to control what you can to help increase the odds that your teeth and gums will remain healthy. 

Remember, unhealthy habits like following a poor quality diet or smoking may boost your risk of oral health issues. And, of course, if you don’t brush and floss daily, your risk of developing dental decay or gum problems will also increase.

Seeing the dentist should be on your agenda

Another way to be sure you can keep your pearly whites bright and your gums nice and strong: see the dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings! 

Your dentist will be able to examine your mouth for the earliest signs of disease so you can receive treatment promptly, and they can also talk to you about genetic factors that may put you at a greater risk of oral problems.  

Reluctant to go to the dentist because you can’t afford it? Spirit is here to help! Shop for affordable dental insurance that covers everything from fillings to orthodontics so you don’t have to break the bank to have a perfect smile. 








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