An astonishing 90% of adults in the United States have experienced at least one cavity in their lifetime. While factors such as oral hygiene practices and consumption of sugary beverages are commonly blamed, the roots of dental issues often delve much deeper. Research indicates that a variety of dental conditions, including cavities, tooth decay, and misaligned teeth, may have familial ties. This suggests that inheriting “bad teeth genes” from your parents could significantly elevate your susceptibility to a range of dental problems.
How Does Genetics Impact Your Dental Health?
Humans inherit 50% of their DNA from their biological mothers and the other 50% from their biological fathers.
That’s why we all share features with our biological parents – blue eyes, curly hair, food preferences, etc.
Even dental issues fall into this pattern.
Here are some oral health attributes that may be inherited:
- Development of your teeth and enamel: Proper development of your teeth and enamel ensures you will experience fewer cavities in life. If you have naturally thin enamel and have other developmental issues in your teeth, you can have dental issues more frequently.
- Amount of salivation in your mouth: Your saliva has an enzyme called lysozyme. Lysozyme kills harmful bacteria in the mouth and keeps your teeth and gums healthy. You might have higher chances of developing cavities and gum infections if you naturally produce less saliva.
- Your immunity: If you are immune-deficient or suffer from a disorder that has lowered your immune response, your body will have difficulty fighting infections. It will also likely affect your oral health and make you prone to developing teeth and gum infections.
Bad Teeth Genes: What Dental Issues Can Be Inherited?
Crooked teeth or misaligned teeth are conditions that affect many children and adults.
In severe cases, it can cause problems with speech.
It is usually corrected using braces.
You can have crooked teeth due to genetic and environmental factors.
Teeth alignment depends on the number and size of teeth, size of jaw, and occlusion (how the teeth come together when we chew).
Your genes determine all these factors.
However, some other factors, like sucking your thumb and thrusting your tongue towards your teeth, also result in crooked teeth.
Interestingly, these behaviors, too, have genetic predispositions.
So, if you have crooked teeth, chances are that it runs in your family.
Periodontitis or gum inflammation is one of the most common types of periodontal disease.
There are two types of periodontitis: chronic periodontitis (CP) and aggressive periodontitis (AgP).
Studies have found that AgP is more likely to be genetic than CP.
Another study has shown that a gene named FAM5C is most likely to contribute to AgP, especially in older adults.
Cavities are usually caused by poor oral hygiene, smoking, and eating sugary and starchy foods.
However, you might become more susceptible to cavities if it runs in your family.
Less saliva production is a genetic risk factor for developing cavities.
A thin or weak enamel might also make you prone to developing cavities.
Tooth decay is caused by the formation of dental plaque, a sticky, bacteria-filled film that forms on the tooth.
This plaque changes into a hard substance called dental calculus when you don’t brush your teeth.
Sugary foods are the most common cause of tooth decay.
However, genes might make you more susceptible to tooth decay.
You might be prone to tooth decay if you have underdeveloped or weak enamel.
A lowered immune response will also give free rein to the oral bacteria, which might lead to tooth decay.
Tooth color is determined by several factors, some of which are intrinsic while others are extrinsic.
Enamel, the outermost layer of teeth, is opaque white, while the underlying dentin is yellow.
People who are born with thin enamel have teeth that look yellow.
But this can also happen due to age when the enamel wears off, exposing the underlying yellow dentin.
Tooth color is determined by how your teeth develop in your fetal life.
If exposed to the antibiotic tetracycline in the womb, you will likely have yellow teeth.
Teeth can also become stained due to smoking or drinking coffee.
All these reasons show that you can have yellow teeth due to genetic and environmental factors.
The most prevalent risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco use.
However, this cancer might run in families.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common type of oral cancer.
You are more likely to develop SCC in your mouth or head region if your close relatives, such as a parent or a sibling, have this condition.
What Are The Bad Teeth Genes To Watch Out For?
If you have more or less than the normal number of teeth in your mouth, it might lead to misalignment and crowding.
The genes that usually cause this anomaly are MSX1, PAX9, EDA, and AXIN2.
- Muscle Segment Homeobox 1 (MSX1): This gene plays a vital role in tooth development. It also plays a part in the development of other craniofacial structures. This gene’s mutation can result in a missing second premolar and third molar.
- The Paired Box 9 (PAX9): This gene expression is required for the various stages of tooth development, such as bud, cap, and bell. Mutations in this gene can result in missing or underdeveloped molar teeth.
- The Axis Inhibitor (AXIN2): Mutations in this gene can result in missing molars, premolars, and upper and lower lateral incisors.
- Dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP): Mutations in this gene lead to the under-formation of dentin.
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Signs and Symptoms Of Bad Teeth Genes
- Amelogenesis imperfecta: Amelogenesis is the development of tooth enamel. Amelogenesis imperfecta is a condition where the enamel develops in a defective way or does not develop at all. It can cause malocclusion and misalignment of teeth. It can also make you prone to developing caries.
- Dentinogenesis imperfecta: Dentinogenesis is dentin formation, the layer of teeth that lies under the enamel. Dentinogeneis imperfecta is a condition where there is improper development of the dentin. It can lead to teeth appearing yellow and translucent. This condition, too, can make you prone to caries.
- Hypodontia is a condition where teeth are naturally missing from your mouth. Usually, the second premolar and lateral incisors are missing. This condition can cause malocclusion.
- Immune response: Streptococcus mutans is a bacteria commonly found in the mouth. It usually does not cause any adverse effects. However, if you have a weakened immune system, this bacteria might colonize the mouth and cause caries.
How Can You Overcome The Effects Of Bad Teeth Genes?
You can’t control your genes and their effect on your oral health.
However, you can always be more vigilant about your oral hygiene routine to overcome the effects of bad teeth genes.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene routine: Brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled brush is essential for healthy teeth. Also, take flossing once a day. If your saliva is less than required, add a fluoride mouthwash. But make sure that you consult your dentist first.
- Keep an eye on your diet: Your food impacts your oral health. Avoid sugary candies, cookies, and sodas. Instead, try snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables. Always drink water instead of any other sugary beverage.
- Visit the dentist regularly: If you have bad teeth genes, it might be a good idea to visit the dentist regularly. You may need extra care and products to maintain your oral health. It is a good idea to consult a professional.
Dental issues can be a result of both genetic as well as environmental factors.
You might be born with bad teeth genes, but it does not mean caring for your teeth is pointless.
Common dental problems like tooth decay, cavities, and gum inflammation are all influenced by genetic risk factors.
However, sugary foods and smoking can also increase the risk of developing these conditions.
So, being vigilant about your oral health is always a good idea.
If you have bad teeth genes and dental problems run in your family, consult your dentist.
You might need some extra products or care to maintain your oral health.