Have you ever wondered if your genes play a role in how resistant your teeth are to decay and how healthy your gums are? Well, it turns out that, yes, like other medical conditions, oral health problems could be genetic. So if your family has a history of conditions that affect the teeth and gums, you might be at an increased risk of developing those problems as well, regardless of how strict you are with your oral hygiene routine. Check out the information below to learn more.
Your Genes and Your Teeth: An Interesting Connection
It turns out that some of your tooth troubles might be due to genetic variations that could make you more prone to periodontitis (AKA gum disease) and tooth decay, according to experts.
Variations in a gene known as DEFB1 may influence the rate at which you are diagnosed with cavities. On top of that, researchers have also found that having higher levels of the FAM5C gene may play a role in your odds of developing gum disease.
Another interesting fact: your saliva could even have an effect on the strength of your teeth. Nutrients like potassium and calcium help to maintain the health of your chompers. But it goes beyond merely eating right; your body has to actually metabolize these nutrients properly in order for them to really be useful, and gene variants could have an impact in this area as well. Who knew?!
Do You Fall into These Categories?
Here’s a quick little quiz that you can use to gauge your predisposition to developing cavities and gum disease:
- Has your dentist told you that your tooth enamel is softer than it should be? It turns out that some individuals will have soft enamel, making it easier for harmful bacteria to get into the tooth structure and lead to decay. When it comes to how solid your enamel is, your genes have an influence, so the best that you can do is use a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to try to keep your teeth as clean as possible. You could even talk to your dentist about fluoride sealants and other measures that you can take to make your enamel more resistant to decay.
- Do you have a soft spot for sweets? Your taste preferences might also be attributable to gene variants. And if you eat a lot of sweets, you could make your teeth even more prone to tooth decay. But you already knew that, right?
- Does your family have a history of dental problems? Conditions like gum disease, tooth decay, misaligned teeth, oral cancer, and a cleft palate or a cleft lip may all be inherited through your genes. Ask around to see if you notice any patterns in your family that would alert you to a predisposition for these ailments.
In the End, It’s Actually a Combination of Genes and Hygiene
If you’re starting to feel hopeless because you’re thinking that your oral health problems are the result of genes that you can’t control, rest assured that there really is something that you can do.
According to experts, the overall health of your mouth will be the result of a combination of dental hygiene and genetics. They estimate that roughly 60% of your risk is attributable to genes. The rest is up to you. So even if you have genes that make you more susceptible to tooth decay and gum problems, if you brush and floss daily, and if you see your dentist at least twice a year, you could increase the odds that you will keep your teeth clean and strong.
Basically, everything from how frequently you brush your teeth, to what you eat daily and whether or not you smoke could determine how healthy your teeth remain as you age. If you want to start taking steps today to prevent tooth decay, experts recommend avoiding sugary drinks that make it super easy for sugar to spread throughout your mouth, allowing decay-causing bacteria to thrive. And—this may come as a surprise—coffee and tea, as well as alcohol, aren’t even as bad as sugary drinks! So think about ditching the soda, fruit juice, and energy drinks, and opt for water as much as possible.
Don’t Let Your Genes Dictate Your Oral Health!
Ultimately, how healthy your teeth and gums will be throughout your life will depend somewhat upon your genetic makeup. But with a Spirit dental plan, you can rest assured that you could affordably get those much-needed checkups and cleanings throughout the year to stay on top of your oral health, no matter what your genes are up to.
As researchers continue working on figuring out the connection between genetics and oral health, you can work with your dentist to catch problems as early on as possible and work on preventing problems before they even occur. Bad genes? No problem! Remember: you’re still in control!