In most cases, you can thank your biological parents for your eye color, your blood type and your height, but what about your straight and bright smile? Do you have a predisposition to problems like gum disease and cavities due to your genes?
Genes do play a role in the shape, development and structure of your teeth. A research team at the University of Zurich studied mice and determined that the Jagged 2 gene is necessary for healthy teeth development. Without it, teeth crowns were malformed and enamel was lacking.
Despite following a healthy diet, implementing a good oral care routine, and regular dentist checkups, you may find that you are still plagued by cavities and gum problems. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine identified the cause of your tooth decay and gum disease, or periodontitis, could be your genetics.
After studying hundreds of samples and dental records and publishing two papers, Dr. Alexandre Vieira, an assistant professor of oral biology, and his team, determined that tooth decay and gum disease can be influenced by individual variations in the gene beta defensin1 (DEFB1), which helps fight germs.
If your mother or father can curl their tongue, chances are you can too thanks to your genetics. Also, if your grandparents and parents have lived to a ripe old age, you too have a higher chance of enjoying a long life.
In some cases, mutated genes can cause a malfunction of the protein in the enamel, the protective outer layer of the tooth. This can result in teeth that appear yellow, brown or grey, and teeth that break easily due to the lack of enamel protecting the teeth against cavity-causing germs.
According to the American National Institute of Health, approximately 14,000 people in the United States are affected by Amelogenesis Imperfecta.
Affecting 1 in 6,000 to 8,000 people, this genetic disorder causes discoloration of teeth to a translucent blue-gray or yellow-brown color and weak teeth that are prone to breakages. Both baby (primary) teeth and adult teeth can be affected.
If you are concerned about your genes and your teeth, speak to your dentist and remember to protect teeth against decay by brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, use of anti-bacterial mouthwash and flossing daily.