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Bad Teeth vs Bad Habits

By Commonwealth DentistryJune 24, 2021Dental Learning Center
Extended family at the beach

We are often reminded of regular maintenance care for positive oral health, sometimes in spite of our best efforts, things go awry. Did you know genetics plays a role in bad teeth? However, bad oral habits are not passed down. Good oral hygiene will give your teeth a fighting chance no matter what type of teeth you inherited. What can you do to put your best smile forward? Keep reading.

Oral Cancer

Quick Fact: According to The NYU Oral Cancer Center, “Approximately 30,000 cases are diagnosed each year, and about 8,000 patients die annually due to oral cancer. The incidence of oral cancer is increasing.”

Genetics: While the largest contributing factors for oral cancer are lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use and alcohol, genetics plays a minor role in the development of oral cancer. People carrying certain genetic markers may be at higher risk of developing the disease. Certain genetic syndromes such as Fanconi anemia or Dyskeratosis congenita carry a high risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

Environment: The more risk factors a person has the higher their chance of developing oral cancer. As many as 80 percent of patients with oral cancers use some type of tobacco product. Smokers are 10 times more likely to develop cancer than nonsmokers. Heavy drinking also puts one at risk for oral cancer. Exposure to ultra-violet light, such as excessive tanning, can also increase oral cancer risks.

Periodontal Disease

Quick Fact: Up to 30% of the U.S. population is predisposed to gum disease.

Genetics: Research suggests that some people are more susceptible to periodontal disease. If family members have suffered from periodontal disease it is worth mentioning to your dentist. This is because identifying those at risk allows for early intervention and can help prevent the disease.

Environment: While there is a link between periodontal disease and genetics, periodontal disease is largely preventable. Smoking and tobacco use, age, and poor nutrition are risk factors for periodontal disease.

Tooth Decay

Genetics: While tooth decay is mostly preventable, some people are more at risk than others.  Certain variations of the gene beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) are linked to a greater risk of cavities in permanent teeth.

Environment: Tooth decay occurs mostly from lifestyle choices, such as drinking, smoking, and poor eating habits. Forming strong healthy habits at a young age helps give your mouth a fighting chance. If your children are at high risk for tooth decay, talk to a Commonwealth Dentistry professional about dental sealants. 

dental examMisaligned (Crooked) Teeth

Genetics: Braces is a hot topic in the dental industry. There is a link between genetics and misaligned teeth. Genetics plays a major role in determining the size of your jaw. Jaw size plays a key role in things such as crowding, gaps, overbites and underbites. Crevices and cracks within teeth make cleaning harder than those with clean straight lines. This in turn, causes more cavities because it is not as easy to clean the teeth.

Environment: Poor oral hygiene is another factor in developing crooked teeth. If you don’t take care of your mouth, your teeth are at risk for falling out. After this happens, teeth shift and move resulting misalignment. Other factors such as malnutrition, thumb sucking, early loss of baby teeth may also result in misaligned teeth.

Weak Teeth

Genetics: Genes control how teeth develop. Sometimes teeth do not form properly causing them to have weaker enamel and are more prone to bacteria.

Environment: The most common factors for weak teeth are related to environmental conditions such as poor diet and habits. Eating habits from childhood also carry over into our adult teeth. Factors such as not getting enough calcium when young can affect your mouth as you age.

Saliva Production

Genetics: Genetics play a key role in the amount of saliva produced within our mouths. Saliva washes away food particles and debris that can cause decay. Low saliva production can lead to cavities, decay, and gum recession. If your genetic variation for saliva production is missing then you could be at risk for tooth decay.

Environment: Drinking fluids, especially water, helps to flush your mouth of debris. Chewing and sucking also help generate saliva production. The more saliva you produce the healthier your mouth will be.

Teeth Color

Genetics: Teeth color shows a link between genetic factors as well. The way in which the white enamel (and the underlying yellow dentine) forms during development is mainly due to our genes. People who develop weaker enamel appear more yellow in color.

Environment: Environmental factors can include things incurred at a young age, such as certain antibiotics. However, yellow teeth is also due to many lifestyle choices. Drinking coffee, wine, tea, and smoking all affect the color of your teeth.

bad teeth vs. bad habitsWhat does this mean for you? Are you doomed if you family’s history signifies oral health problems. Not at all. Prevention has been proven time and time again to be the biggest factor in oral health. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash significantly decreases your risk for oral health problems.

No matter the reason behind the oral issues you are facing, making an appointment to see your dentist  allows them to asses any possible damage and get your teeth on the right track.


Commonwealth Dentistry

Author Commonwealth Dentistry

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