Basically, everything about you is based off genetics. The way you look, the depth of your voice, and even the way your natural smile looks can all be traced back in your lineage.
Some dental issues run in the family and should be discussed with your dentist. Anything that can be strongly linked to your genetic history through either parent can put you more at risk to develop or have already. Here is a list of genetic oral concerns your dentist should know about if they occur in your family.
A supernumerary tooth is an extra permanent tooth that either stays under the skin and never erupts or actually emerges and becomes part of the row of existing teeth. Often a smaller tooth, a supernumerary tooth can be relatively harmless but may cause crowding in surrounding teeth if you have a smaller mouth or a narrow jawbone.
Your dentist will likely discover the extra tooth or teeth in a standard X-ray. If the tooth is already erupted and not causing any harm, your dentist will likely not recommend pulling the tooth.
If the tooth causes your smile to be uneven or you are embarrassed by it, your dentist can provide a few solutions. You can have the additional tooth pulled or get braces to help even out your teeth and give you the smile you desire.
A large enough concern on its own (half the adult population in the United States suffers from it at one point in their lives), gum disease is a genetic trait in up to 30 percent of people. Gum disease causes tooth decay and loss, bad breath, bleeding gums, and other oral issues.
If you are predisposed to gum disease due to your genetics, then your dentist may recommend a prescription mouthwash or other dental cleaning tools to help prevent the issue. Brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding smoking and other tobacco use, and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups can help lower your risk of gum disease.
Large gums can overwhelm your smile and make you feel self-conscious about your grin. Luckily, treatments are available to help reduce the size of your gums in comparison to your teeth. You can have veneers placed on your teeth to make them more proportionate to your prominent gums, or you can have your gums treated to reduce their size.
Oral cancer is largely caused by lifestyle choices, such as alcohol use or tobacco use, but it can be a genetic condition as well. Always alert your dentist to oral concerns that seem strange to you, such as:
- Pain in your tongue
- White spots in your mouth
- Coughing without illness
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen lymph nodes without illness
If you do smoke or drink alcohol, let your dentist know, especially if you have a family history of oral cancer. Your dentist will take extra care when giving you regular exams, checking for early signs of oral cancer.
While you cannot entirely prevent genetic oral conditions, you can do your part to keep your mouth healthy by brushing regularly, using mouthwash, rinsing your mouth with water after eating or drinking, and visiting your dentist twice a year for checkups. Your dentist can give you a customized oral care plan based on genetic dental concerns you have.
Taking care of your teeth means understanding what conditions you may be predisposed to. While not all genetic traits you carry will manifest themselves, it's wise to know what conditions you need to watch out for concerning your dental health. See our team of dental experts at Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA for all your dental needs.