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How Our Genetics Influences Our Dental Health

Baby Genes Vector Image

With ongoing research into our oral health, our family history is one of the main aspects determining our teeth and gums. The fact that our teeth are like our fingerprints has more truth to it than you realize, as our teeth’ alignment, shape, and size are often determined by our DNA. However, our DNA also seems to determine factors related to disease resistance, how the body responds to bacteria, and other factors influencing our health today. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss how genetics can influence our oral health and how dentists can work with this information to get you the necessary treatments. 

How Genetics Influences Our Oral Health 

Our DNA is like a storage place; it holds information, specifically blueprints that describe every aspect of our bodies. The amino acids within our DNA help hold genetic patterns that describe areas such as the shape of our face, our eye color, and in this case, our teeth. Our DNA is split in half from our parents, but other parts also hold information about our grandparents, their parents, and so on. Throughout all this, many studies cite that certain people can be at risk of certain diseases due to the genetic factors involved in how our body uses and retains instructions regarding bodily functions.

When it comes to our teeth, our teeth are one of the clearest ways for people to be identified besides fingerprints and hair strands. This is because our pulp contains strands of our DNA, and our dental records provide means for identification, especially when determining the age, sex, race/ethnicity, habits, and even occupations. Our teeth are highly connected to our identities because each set of teeth is just as unique as ours. Our teeth also contain the genetic instructions to determine health factors such as gaps, misalignments, tooth size, enamel shade, and bone structure. 

How Does Our DNA Indicate Our Risks of Oral Diseases? 

In some cases, our DNA doesn’t help us because some strands of genetic code can leave us more vulnerable to certain diseases. With our oral health, certain diseases become more prone in some individuals because of genetic factors, including: 

  • Gum Disease: Nearly 33% of all Americans will develop gingivitis at some point in their lives, and some people can be more prone to inflammation, bleeding gums, and sensitivity due to inflammatory diseases such as hypertension, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. 
  • Tooth Decay: While poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of tooth decay, our enamel also plays a role in how tooth decay develops. For those who lack strong enamel molecules within their teeth, softer enamel can make some people more susceptible to bacteria growth along the tooth’s surface.
  • Misaligned Teeth: Misalignments are one of the biggest examples of how genetics can influence our oral health, as how the teeth erupt and grow into place is often determined by our DNA. Children need to see their orthodontists or pediatrician if they are prone to early misalignments. 

No matter what, your dental team will be there for you, and for more information about treatment options, the best way to contact them is to schedule an appointment today!

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Dr. Marian Bradford Dr. Marian Bradford brings over 20 years of experience as a Dr. of Dental Surgery to the practice at Premier Dental of South Orange County. As a researcher, educator, and clinician, she brings a full range of services to patients in the Aliso Viejo, CA area, including restoration and cosmetic dentistry care.
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