We’ve all heard of health issues attributed to “bad genes.” Maybe you need glasses because poor natural vision runs in the family. Or perhaps you’re at risk for a more serious condition like heart disease because of those family ties.
Have you ever considered if bad teeth can be genetic? Before you laugh or dismiss the idea out of hand, the idea is worthy of consideration. So much of our medical history can be passed on from our parents, it is possible that a child can be a victim of poor teeth genetics?
Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas answers questions like this one all the time. We deal with the effects of poor oral health, and our goal is to give your child a happy, healthy smile they can be proud of for a lifetime. If you’re wondering about your child’s teeth and genetics, consider some of these issues.
What Oral Health Issues Are Most Prominent in Children?
Some of the issues we find to be most problematic in children when they visit our office for their routine checkups include:
- Plaque: When we eat, bacteria can build up on the enamel of our teeth. This shiny, sticky film is called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that will begin to eat away at the enamel of your teeth over time if not removed by proper brushing. Also, plaque that is not removed through regular brushing and flossing turns into a hard, chalky substance called tartar that causes a host of other oral health issues.
- Cavities: Over time, as bacteria begin to eat away at the enamel of the teeth, cavities can begin to form. A cavity is simply a hole in the surface of the tooth. Although the concept is a simple one to grasp, it can cause a multitude of issues. Since the pulp of the tooth is now exposed, the gums can easily become infected and pain from now-exposed can become severe. Additionally, cavities require an extra trip to the pediatric dentist for composite fillings.
- Gum disease: Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums that surround your teeth. Gingivitis, the most common and treatable periodontal disease, is a result of poor brushing and flossing habits over a long period of time. Thankfully, with proper care from your child’s pediatric dentist and improved at-home dental habits, the effects of gingivitis can be reversed over time.
- Bad breath: Some children (and adults) suffer from chronically bad breath, called halitosis. Not only can this be socially awkward, but consistent bad breath is also a sign of a deeper issue that must be treated.
So, Can Bad Teeth Be Genetic?
If you noticed, most of the issues that are commonly dealt with at the pediatric dentist have nothing to do with poor teeth genetics. Rather, they predominantly are issues with a deficiency in a child’s oral care habits. This means that your child can’t blame their cavities or bad breath on poor genes. However, that doesn’t mean that family history shouldn’t be considered when discussing your child’s overall oral health.
Just like your nose, eyes, and chin were passed along from your family tree, you received your teeth from your genealogy as well. Simply put, your children are genetically predisposed to have teeth shaped and positioned just like yours. No doubt, that can cause difficulties in certain ways. For instance, your child could have hereditary issues that cause their teeth to become misaligned and crooked. Also, poor teeth genetics could cause issues with wisdom teeth when your child gets older. Additionally, although it’s extremely rare, oral cancer can be a hereditary condition that also affects children.
How Can I Overcome My Tooth Genetics?
It’s important for you to understand that almost every issue your child may have with their teeth can be solved with a good oral care regimen. Remember: bad genes are no excuse for poor care of the teeth and gums! Your child’s best defense against bad teeth genetics is to make sure they:
- Brush properly: Remember, it’s recommended that everyone (especially children) brush their teeth twice a day. When brushing, don’t skimp on the amount of time it takes to complete the task. It should take 2 minutes of brushing to ensure that you’ve done a thorough job. Check your child’s brushing habits now and again to ensure that they’re not slacking in the process.
- Floss daily: It’s also recommended that everyone floss their teeth once a day. Unfortunately, both adults and children have trouble with that! Make sure you’ve taught your child how to carefully and thoroughly floss their teeth. If it’s easier, purchase floss picks. They’re inexpensive, and they make the chore of flossing even simpler.
- Replace old toothbrushes: We understand that picking up a new toothbrush every three or four months probably isn’t high on your priority list at home. However, you do your child a disservice when brush bristles are frayed because each brush stroke is less effective than it should be. Even worse, instead of cleansing teeth from bacteria, old toothbrushes often spread more bacteria than they remove.
- Visit the pediatric dentist: Make sure that your child visits the pediatric dentist twice a year for their routine checkup and cleaning. Over the course of time, if your child has misaligned teeth due to poor tooth genetics, your dentist may recommend a visit to the orthodontist for traditional braces or Invisalign.
Learn More About Tooth Genetics From Children’s Dentistry
Still have questions about oral care and tooth genetics? Contact Children’s Dentistry, the pediatric dental leader in the Las Vegas area. We have welcoming, friendly offices that your children will feel comfortable visiting. We also accept most accept most forms of dental insurance, including Medicaid.
Schedule your child’s consultation today! Contact us so that we can help your child’s smile shine brightly for many years to come.