Is Your Genetic Code Playing a Part in Your Oral Health Problems?


Genetics may play a bigger role in your oral health than you think. It’s possible that you inherited more than your dark hair from your father.  You may also have an increased likelihood for problems with your oral health. Many issues with your oral condition can be linked to genetic factors, leaving you at higher risk for problems with your teeth and gums, regardless of your personal habits in caring for your teeth.

Oral Health Conditions Can Run in the Family

Dental hygiene and how you care for your teeth are not a genetic conditions. Those habits are something you learn from your family. Other conditions, however, may be something you’ve inherited.  The following are a few conditions of the mouth that are scientifically proven to have a genetic component.

  • Gum disease can be linked to genetic factors. In fact, up to 30 percent of the people in the United States are susceptible to gingivitis or periodontal disease, genetically. Let your dentist know if gum disease runs in your family. There is a genetic test that can determine how vulnerable you are to this problem.  Although gum disease can be genetic, good oral hygiene, brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing every day and regular dental checkups, can keep the plaque buildup that leads to gum disease in check.
  • Crooked or misaligned teeth are obviously linked to genetics when you inherited your dad’s overbite or your mom’s crooked teeth. The misalignment of your teeth or bite is more than a cosmetic problem. It can be detrimental to your dental health, causing headaches, TMJ disorder, tooth decay, and gum disease. Straightening your teeth can improve your general health and it also improves your oral health. Dr. Terrance Wolbaum of Pioneer Hills Dental is a certified Invisalign® dentist who can help straighten your teeth to help you achieve a beautiful smile and a healthy mouth. Contact his office at (303) 766-8811 to set up an appointment for a free initial consultation to determine if Invisalign® is the solution to your misalignment. 
  • Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. In spite of good oral hygiene, up to 60 percent of tooth decay can be linked to genetic factors. Before you blame the problems in your mouth solely on grandpa, scientific studies say the overall health of your teeth depends on a combination of genetics, good dental hygiene and the use of fluoride. The bottom line? Do what you can to prevent tooth decay. Enjoy a healthy diet (and follow the recommendations listed below).  If you are following these general guidelines, and still struggle with some of these issues, your dentist can help you stay on top of the problems before they get out of hand.
  • Oral Cancer includes any kind of cancer that occurs in the mouth, throat, cheeks and tongue. Research suggests the probability for oral cancer to run in families. Although a family history of cancer increases your risk of developing mouth cancer, that is not the only factor. You also increase your risk by smoking, chewing tobacco and excessive use of alcohol. These substances are all carcinogenic, and they contain chemicals that can damage the DNA in cells that lead to cancer. Annual oral cancer screenings take five minutes and can be done in tandem with a routine dental examination. Make sure to have a screening every year! There is a greater chance for a cure when mouth cancer is detected early. 

Oral Health Recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA):

Even though heredity may play a part in your oral health, you can beat the odds by practicing healthy habits and seeing your dentist regularly. Take an active role in your dental health with preventative measures, eat a nutritious diet and keep your mouth healthy by following these recommendations from the ADA.

  • Brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth once a day.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet.
  • See your dentist twice a year for check ups.

We don’t fully understand the full effect heredity plays on our oral health, but continuous research is making strides in discovering new answers.  Luckily, genetics isn’t the only factor in your dental health.

Call for an Oral Health Consultation

If you’re concerned about your dental health history and how genetics may be affecting you, Dr. Wolbaum and his highly skilled team are trained to provide a wide variety of dental services.  He can offer a customized plan just for you and your individual needs.

Specializations include treating gum disease (gingivitis and periodontal disease), tooth decay, misaligned teeth and a host of other dental services. They are here to help put a smile on your face.

Pioneer Hills Dental, located in Aurora, Colorado, offers state-of-the-art family dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. We not only serve patients in Aurora, but there is also easy access for patients in Castle Rock, Lone Tree and Highlands Ranch. Call for your appointment today at (303) 766-8811. We have the solutions for your dental problems and look forward to helping you achieve and healthy and beautiful smile!