Which Dental Health Conditions, if Any, Are Hereditary?

If you have an oral health condition such as tooth decay or gum disease, you may have wondered if the problem was hereditary. For instance, if your parents have gum disease or cavities, could you be more likely to have them? Although the majority of oral diseases are the result of both genetics and environment, there are a few dental health conditions that are hereditary or have a common gene [1].

Tooth Decay

Cavities are most often the result of poor oral hygiene than genetics. However, research does link genetics to an increased risk of tooth decay. Individuals having a variant of a gene called DEFB1 were more likely to have cavities than those who did not have the variant [2]. Bacteria that causes tooth decay can also be passed down from parents to infant from the sharing of utensils or kissing.

In addition, tooth enamel—the hardest substance in the human body that makes up the outer layer of your teeth—can be influenced by genetics, with some people being more susceptible to have weaker tooth enamel, which can increase risk of cavities and sensitive teeth [3].

Periodontal Disease

People who have a family history of periodontal disease, or gum disease, are more likely to have the condition even if they take good care of their teeth and gums [4]. If you have a family history of gum disease, let your dentist know. There are several other risk factors for gum inflammation and disease, including tobacco use, stress, age, and poor nutrition.

So although you may have a higher risk of gum disease because of genetics, it doesn’t mean you will automatically develop the disorder—another good reason to take excellent care of your teeth!

Amelogenesis Imperfecta

Amelogenesis imperfecta is a disorder in which the teeth do not develop properly, which results in abnormalities such as small or irregularly shaped teeth that are missing tooth enamel, which can lead to cracked, chipped teeth, tooth decay, and periodontal disease as well as sensitive teeth.

Since the tooth enamel isn’t properly formed or missing in people with amelogenesis imperfecta, they are at much higher risk for oral health issues, and dental restoration is often necessary. Although rare, this condition has a significant impact on oral health [5].

Crooked Teeth

Having a misaligned bite or teeth is generally the result of genetics. However, they can also be the result of environmental factors, such as thumb sucking, injury to the teeth, and tongue thrusting [6].

Although crooked teeth in and of themselves are not harmful, they can cause problems with your smile, such as difficulty cleaning, increased risk of oral infections, and trouble chewing food. While some people with crooked teeth or a misaligned bite may not require treatment, others will benefit from straightening their teeth for a more comfortable, confident smile.

Let Your Dentist Know Your Oral History

If you have any oral health issues in your immediate family, let your dentist know during your next checkup. In some cases, tooth decay and gum disease in parents or siblings could mean you have a higher risk for these conditions. Fortunately, brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist can help keep your smile healthy even if you have inherited oral health problems.

Sources:
1. https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-
topics/genetics-and-oral-health
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20371866/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270810/
4. https://www.perio.org/for-patients/gum-disease-information/gum-disease-risk-factors/
5. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/amelogenesis-imperfecta/
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054073/

Summary
Which Dental Health Conditions, if Any, Are Hereditary?
Article Name
Which Dental Health Conditions, if Any, Are Hereditary?
Description
Did you know? Although the majority of oral diseases are the result of both genetics and environment, there are a few dental health conditions that are hereditary or have a common gene.
Author
Lansdowne Dental Associates