How Does Your DNA Affect Your Oral Health?

When examined, your DNA tells an intricate story of who and what you are. For this reason, your genetics is often referred to as your body’s building blocks.

Having your genetics tested through a lab or using a home DNA testing kit will give you insight into a wide range of matters. This includes your ethnic background, allergies, hereditary diseases, and much more. This, however, raises the question: “Can DNA testing determine whether you’re at higher risk of dental issues?”

The answer to the question is yes. Oral health concerns can run in the family. However, even though you may be more susceptible, it doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily have these problems. A lot of common “inherited” diseases don’t depend on a single gene defect, but will instead result due to gene/environment interactions.

So, let’s take a look at which oral concerns are connected to predisposing genetic markers.

Dental Health and DNA – What’s the Connection?

Having genetic testing done will make it clear if you carry specific markers associated with dental issues. If you do, you may be more prone to develop certain conditions and need to take better care of your oral health. It, however, doesn’t mean that you’re inevitably doomed to develop any of these conditions.

The opposite also holds true. Just because you don’t have specific markers, it doesn’t mean that you’re immune to developing problems. Even though your DNA may play a vital role in your oral health, the condition and hygiene of your mouth ultimately rests in your hands.

Potential Hereditary Conditions

Genetic testing suggests that the following conditions may be hereditary.

Cancer of the Mouth

Every year, thousands of people lose their lives due to this disease. Even though smoking, drinking, and certain other lifestyle choices are the top risk factors for developing cancer of the mouth, DNA may also play a minor role. Carrying specific genetic markers can drastically increase your chances of contracting oral carcinoma.

It’s vital to quit smoking, cut back on your alcohol consumption, and follow a balanced diet to reduce your risk factor.

Dental Cavities

If you carry specific variations of the DEFB1 gene, you’re at a greater risk of developing dental cavities in your permanent teeth. The following is known to help prevent tooth decay in predisposed people:

  • Sealants
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Frequent dental cleaning and exams
  • Prescription toothpaste
  • Prescription mouthwash
  • Regular brushing and flossing

Cavities can potentially promote the formation of gum disease and tooth loss if left untreated.

Gum Disease

Also known as periodontal disease. This problem is linked to tooth decay, and it’s known to cause sensitive and inflamed gums. Left untreated, it can form an abscess, which may result in bone and tooth loss. As much as one-third of the world’s population may have the genetic markers predisposing them to this condition.

Regularly visiting your dentist might lead to early diagnosis, which makes treating the problem easier and more successful.

Tooth Misalignment

The size of your jaw is primarily determined by your genetics. Too wide or too small and it may result in:

  • Skew teeth 
  • Gaps
  • Crowding
  • Underbites
  • Overbites

Waiting for your child’s teeth to fully form and then getting a dentist to prescribe braces isn’t the best solution. Young children often benefit from early orthodontic interaction. This kind of treatment prevents severe problems in the long run by allowing your kids’ developing bones and teeth to grow properly.

Cleft Palate or Lip

If a developing fetus’s upper lip and roof of the mouth don’t come together properly, it results in a cleft palate or lip. This is a reasonably common congenital disability (conditions present at birth regardless of its cause). This issue may be related to genetics. 

Scientific research shows that babies of Native American, Latino, and Asian descent, as well as those whose parents were born with this malformity, are more susceptible to this problem.

The Biggest Contributing Factors to Oral Health

Even though genetics can play an essential role in oral health, the biggest contributing factors remain your lifestyle and consumption choices. It’s your choice if you eat unhealthy foods, smoke, or drink excessively. 

People that smoke, or used to, run a much higher risk of developing gum disease. Tobacco products also have the potential to reduce the presence of bleeding gums and redness typically associated with this condition, making it more difficult to diagnose.

Regular brushing and flossing play a significant role in reducing your risk of contracting oral health issues. A lack of this provides bacteria with the ideal environment to flourish, typically resulting in cavities and gum problems.

How to Protect Yourself Against Oral Disease

Running a higher risk of developing an oral disease shouldn’t be seen as an excuse to neglect dental hygiene. It’s essential to realize that you’re in control. Therefore, you should regard it as a reason to take better care of yourself. By doing the following, you’ll ensure that your smile remains picture-perfect for a long time to come:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush combined with fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Make flossing a daily activity
  • Use mouthwash after meals and brushing to remove left-over food particles
  • Maintain a healthy diet and limit your sugar intake
  • Avoid using a worn-out toothbrush; be sure to replace it at least once every three months
  • Reconsider the use of tobacco products
  • Schedule regular dental appointments for routine cleanings and checkups

To Wrap Up

2Although genetics may play a role in various oral conditions, there are many other much more damaging factors to consider. By maintaining proper oral hygiene and avoiding ingesting harmful substances, you’ve got the power in your hands to reduce your risk of developing dental diseases.

However, it’s essential to schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately if oral health problems arise. Early detection does a lot to ensure effective treatment. Remember, taking care of your dental hygiene helps to improve your overall well being, and even gives you a boost when getting assessed for health insurance.