Are Oral Health Issues Genetic?

Posted on February 2, 2017 in General oral health

Happy father looking at baby girl in parkYour father gave you more than just your eye color and your sense of humor. There's a chance he also gave you an increased risk for periodontal disease.

Just like other traits, you can inherit oral health issues from your family. That's why it's important to know your family's medical history, including these oral health problems:

Periodontal (Gum) Disease. Among the problems you can inherit is periodontal (gum) disease. If you are more susceptible to gum disease, you can take extra care to help prevent it or lessen the severity if the disease does occur. The best chance to achieve good oral health in this case would be to maintain routine oral care. And if you do have periodontal disease, be sure to get regular (two to four visits per year) preventive periodontal therapy.

Oral Cancer. Similarly, if you know you have a higher genetic risk for oral cancer, take extra precautions. Make sure to alert your dentist of the heightened risk – early detection often results in more successful treatment should oral cancer arise. If you smoke, quit! Smoking is a major risk factor for both oral cancer and periodontal disease. Talk with your dentist if you need help quitting.

Orthodontic Issues. It is a good idea to alert your child's dentist and/or orthodontist if you know you have a higher amount of orthodontic issues in your family, such as extra teeth, missing teeth, spacing or bite problems. An early diagnosis of certain bite problems can be more easily fixed with braces or surgery and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate. Another inherited problem could be a cleft lip or a cleft palate. Orthodontic treatment is usually needed in these situations. Dental problems are most often caused by teeth not erupting normally, the presence of extra teeth in the mouth, or teeth failing to develop.

Although genetic oral health issues sometimes can't be completely avoided, being aware and taking extra precautions is the best way to catch problems at earlier stages. Make sure you know if you're at a higher risk for any genetic oral health issues – talk to your dentist and family today.