Do Genetics Play A Role In Oral Health?

oral-healthMost of us know that genetics can play a role in many medical conditions, but few people think about the impact genetics can have on our oral health. Research on the connections between oral health and genetics has so far been inconclusive, but several studies have found at least some link between genetics and oral health. Genetic factors can also leave people more vulnerable to environmental influences leading to poor dental health.

How Genetics Can Influence Your Oral Health

  1. According to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, there are certain genetic variations that may cause tooth decay and periodontitis. Some genes can have an influence when inherited from only one parent. Other genes have to be inherited from both parents to have an impact.
  2. Up to 30% of American adults may be genetically predisposed to poor oral health, including cavities and gum disease. Unfortunately, there is no test to determine whether you are in that 30%.
  3. Lifestyle choices, such as smoking or chewing tobacco, may be the main risk factor for oral cancers, but genetics can increase your risk, also. To be on the safe side, avoid tobacco products and drink alcohol in moderation.
  4. Tooth misalignment resulting in the need for braces often runs in families. The genes you inherit play a large role in the shape of your jaw and the amount of space available for teeth. If other people in your family have needed braces, chances are you will, too.
  5. Many common conditions are not the result of a specific gene but rather a combination of genetics and environmental factors. For example, children with overweight mothers are more likely to have cavities, but researchers are uncertain whether the main cause is genetic or perhaps an abundance of sugary foods available to everyone in the household.

“Genetics likely play a role in your oral health,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix and founder of Dr. Carol Ford & Associates, “but proper oral care goes a long way toward protecting and preserving your oral health. Call our office today for an appointment to discuss how to keep your mouth healthy.”

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