After suffering a blow to the mouth or developing issues with oral health that are intolerable, it can be scary. During these times, a trip to the emergency dentist may be in order. While some cases are easy to diagnose and treat, emergency dentists can also use their expertise to diagnose and promptly treat more…
A General Dentist Answers: Can Genetics Affect Oral Health?
Each general dentist understands that every person has a unique set of teeth. Some still get tooth decay even when practicing excellent oral hygiene routines, while others seem to skip brushing every now and then and never develop a cavity in their life. Unfortunately, like the shape of our jaw and the size of our teeth, genetics can also affect oral health.
Traits passed on through generations can give some patients an unfair disadvantage when it comes to oral health. From the shape of teeth to inherited oral conditions, there are a variety of factors that can give a patient an increased risk for dental problems.
To find out if you are at an increased risk for oral health problems, look no further than your immediate family members. Does your mother or father have a recurring issue with brittle, chipped teeth? Do your siblings tend to get cavities in their back molars often despite diligent oral hygiene habits? Has your grandfather received multiple root canal treatments over the years?
Your general dentist will be able to give you a better picture of your particular risks when it comes to oral health. Starting with a family history of any dental or gingival issues, the general dentist can break down what might be threatening your teeth in particular.
Genetic conditions that affect oral health
Deeply grooved molars are a common culprit for those who seem to get cavities frequently despite brushing and flossing. Debris and food particles can easily get caught in these crevices, staying wedged in the tooth and causing decay quicker than those with shallow grooves.
Enamel thickness is another important factor that can negatively affect oral health. Those with hereditarily thin enamel may get tooth decay more frequently and can even develop fractures in their teeth more easily. Enamel is the first defense against bacterial attack and tooth decay, and when there are small holes in this outermost layer, tartar can take hold.
Over 30% of the population may be genetically predisposed to periodontal disease. Gum disease affects most, if not all adults at least once in life. This condition is characterized by sensitive, inflamed gums that may bleed when brushing. When left untreated, periodontal (gum) disease can result in tooth loss and jawbone failure.
Those who have genetics to blame for their oral health issues will benefit seeing a general dentist at least every six months for a bi-annual deep cleaning and checkup. Some might even want to see their dentist every four months to ensure that tooth decay is stopped in its tracks and gum disease is cleared before it can cause destruction.
Oral cancer is another disease that runs in the family. This often fatal disease is the sixth most common in the world and often presents with no symptoms. If you have a family history of oral cancer, getting regular screenings every six months (or more frequently, depending on your risk determined by your general dentist) will help to catch any precancerous areas before the problem advances.
Visit your general dentist to learn about your risks for oral health issues.
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