General Dentistry

Dentist Answers: How Do Genes Play A Role in My Oral Health?

Feb 4 • 2 minute read

Our genes play a big role in shaping who we are. You may know you inherited your grandmother’s eyes or your father’s quick wit — but what about your oral health? Many people do not realize that certain smile “traits” are inherited, while others are shaped by habits and lifestyle choices. Below, you will find you more about the role genes have in oral health from your dentist in Potomac Falls. Knowing can help you keep a cleaner, healthier smile for life!

Do These Conditions Run in Your Family?

To understand what your or your child’s teeth may be at risk for, it is a wise idea to talk to your relatives to find out if they have experienced any of the following oral health problems that are passed on through the genes:

  • Periodontal disease: A small but statistically significant proportion of the population is genetically predisposed to periodontal (gum) disease. It shows up as red, inflamed gums and can eventually lead to tooth loss and larger problems with overall health.
  • Cavities: If it seems like you are always getting cavities compared to others you know, it may not necessarily be because your oral hygiene habits are worse — some people are just more prone to tooth decay due to genetic factors. Depending on the severity of the cavity, it may be treated with a filling, crown, or a root canal.
  • Oral cancer: Having any type of cancer in the family increases the risk that you will develop it, too, including oral cancer.
  • Misaligned teeth: In addition to environmental factors, the alignment of the teeth is determined in part by genetics that influence the size and shape of the jaw. If your mother and father had crooked teeth and needed braces, chances are you and your children will, too.

What to Do If You Are At-Risk

Just because a certain condition affects your relatives does not mean that you will necessarily develop it. Talk to your dentist about what you are at risk for and they can put together a game plan to help keep your smile safe. Periodontal disease and tooth decay, for example, can be prevented with excellent oral hygiene practices at home and regular 6-month visits to the dentist. If oral cancer is a concern, getting routine screenings at the dentist’s office can help to ensure that it is detected early, when treatment is most successful. Misaligned teeth can also be corrected with orthodontic treatment. One of the most exciting services that Dr. Bryce can provide is testing your DNA for susceptibility to certain oral diseases. This test can serve as a predictor for success for certain procedures as well.

Remember that partnering with your dentist can help you keep your smile safe and complete for the long-haul!

Meet the Dentist

Dr. Robert W. Bryce earned his DDS from Georgetown University School of Dentistry and has been practicing since 1988. He remains committed to furthering his practice through continuing education and is a member of a number of professional organizations, including being a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry. To learn more about Dr. Bryce or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to contact his practice by calling (571) 223-6221 today.

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