Do Bad Teeth Run in the Family?

You brush your teeth daily and never miss your scheduled dental appointments. You limit your intake of sticky, sugary, and starchy foods and often consume water instead of carbonated or acidic beverages. Still, your dentist tells you there’s plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth.

Could genetics be behind your vulnerability to dental issues?

The short answer is yes, it's possible for bad teeth to be passed down genetically. However, there are also environmental factors that can cause dental issues, such as a poor diet and limited access to proper oral hygiene.

Let’s talk about features in your smile that genes may have an influence on as well as ways you can protect your oral health, despite your family’s dental history.

Oral Health and Family Health History

Here are some dental traits and or conditions that can be inherited:

Tooth and Jaw Shape

Your genetic makeup can affect the way you look, including your teeth. It’s not uncommon for certain traits to be inherited, such as tooth shape and even cavity-prone teeth.

A person can have misshapen teeth from the time the permanent teeth come in. There could be gaps between your teeth that are out of your control. Not only can genetics influence the structure of a person’s teeth, but it can also be responsible for missing or extra teeth, discoloration, gum recession, and other common dental concerns.

Enamel Defects

Enamel is the strong outermost layer and protective barrier of the teeth. However, in some instances, they can be too thin or inadequate.

The enamel develops from the womb, so defects can be hereditary. One example of this is enamel hypoplasia. The symptoms aren’t always visible, but among the common ones are yellow or brown staining, transverse lines, tiny pits, and white spots.

Enamel hypoplasia can cause discomfort due to the thin outer layer. This makes teeth more sensitive, particularly to changing temperatures.

Gum Disease

Genetic disposition can also make a person more prone to gum disease. Genes can affect the gum structure and the body’s response to the bacteria in the gums.

Moreover, gum disease is linked to the body’s immune response. However, you can reduce your risks by being proactive. Letting your dentist know about your family’s oral health history will also allow them to provide you with the attention you need.

The earliest signs of gum disease are silent, so routine dental checkups are extremely valuable in monitoring gum health.

Maintaining Healthy Teeth, Regardless of the Family's Oral Health History

Even if you’ve confirmed that bad teeth run in the family, this doesn’t mean you’re destined to have poor oral health too.

Aside from genetic factors, environmental factors like lifestyle choices and access to oral hygiene products also play a role in the health of a person's teeth.

Diet is especially important. Consuming too much sugar or having an acidic diet can weaken tooth enamel and contribute to cavities. Poor oral hygiene habits are another major factor, as not brushing and flossing regularly can increase the likelihood of developing cavities.

Talk to your dentist about your family history if you’re concerned about inherited dental issues. The best way to ensure healthy teeth, no matter your family background, is to take preventative steps now. This includes the following:

Don't let genetics deter you from taking charge of your own oral health. To request a dental consultation in Ottawa, ON, please get in touch with us at Dow’s Lake Dental. We’re happy to share more information about dental visits and maintaining healthy smiles.