Your eye color, hair color, and your dislike of asparagus are all things that you probably got from your parents in one way or another. The first two are genetic, meaning that you inherited them directly from Mom or Dad. The asparagus thing, though, might be something that you learned. And while there may be ways to prepare asparagus that you will absolutely love, there are other things that you’ve inherited from your parents that are harder (if not impossible) to change.
Here are four oral health conditions that may run in the family. Do any of them apply to you? Your Overland Park dentist can help!
1. Teeth and jaw alignment. Just like you inherit your hair and eye color from your parents, the shape and size of your jaw is shaped by your genes. This, in turn, affects the alignment of your teeth. If you’ve experienced problems with alignment such as overbite, underbite, tooth crowding, or gaps between your teeth, chances are you’re not the only one in your family who has.
However, just because your teeth are misaligned doesn’t mean your kids necessarily have to have the same experience. While your kids may need braces if you did, significant advances have been made in orthodontic techniques and technology, and early treatment can do wonders in preventing more serious problems as kids get older.
2. Tooth decay and cavities. We all know that it’s important to brush and floss your teeth every day and to make regular visits to your Overland Park dentist, but genetic factors also play a role in tooth decay. Some people are simply more prone to cavities than others. If you eat healthy and brush and floss as often you should and still end up with a cavity on your next dental visit, you may be able to blame Mom and Dad.
3. Periodontal (gum) disease. We may not talk about gum disease as often as cavities, but it’s a serious problem that affects nearly half of all adults in the United States. It may also be at least partially genetic. If your gums are red or inflamed, you may be one of the 30% or so of the population who are genetically predisposed to gum disease. Fortunately, proper dental care can help.
4. Oral Cancer Risk. While all of the factors that go into cancer risk are not fully understood, it is agreed that individuals with certain genetic markers may be at higher risk. It’s one of the reasons doctors ask for your family history of certain diseases. When it comes to oral cancers, however, lifestyle choices such as tobacco use and excess alcohol consumption are much bigger risk factors than genetics.
Here’s the good news: While about 60% of your oral health risks may be determined by your genes, the rest is in your hands, and good oral health habits can make a huge difference in everything from tooth decay to your risk of oral cancer.
That’s why it’s vital that you brush, floss, and make regular visits to see your Overland Park dentist, no matter what your genetics may be. Just give Watts Family Dental a call at (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment today!