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August 29th, 2013

Are “Bad Teeth” Genetic?

Category: Uncategorized

Many of us have heard someone blame a cavity—or two—on their genes! It’s true that almost all aspects of our health are affected by heredity, but how much does our family history really affect whether or not we have “bad teeth”?

First, let’s define “bad teeth.” Many of us think of having so-called “bad teeth” as getting cavities, having gum disease, or developing severe tooth decay. In today’s world, most of us who develop cavities or tooth decay in our younger years end up with these problems—generally speaking—because of letting sugar sit on our teeth and/or drinking a lot of sugary drinks, not checking in with the dentist regularly to catch and combat preventative problems, and because of having poor dental habits over a period of time.

When you look at these common risk factors for developing tooth decay and for getting cavities, all of these are something we can control ourselves!

Translation: having crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, and the baseline health of your teeth and gums is in fact something that’s due to genetics. With that said, there is much more to the story. Being predisposed to something thanks to mom and dad doesn’t mean you can’t alter the eventual health of your mouth with your ongoing hygiene habits.

Thanks to genetics, this also means we can inherit teeth and gums that come in correctly aligned and “perfect” looking—but you can STILL get cavities if you don’t take care of your teeth!

So how else is our smile affected by genetics, you ask?

Believe it or not, the natural tint of our teeth is actually determined in part by your genes as well. So if you have extra white enamel (that’s the coating of your teeth), then you have your parents to thank. And as you know, certain prescriptions and foods can change your enamel color over time. Once again, for the majority of us, how we treat our teeth over time will end up being just as an important factor when it comes to the color of our teeth.

All in all, while it’s true that you may be a bit more likely to get gum disease, or have another condition that leads to tooth decay, remember that good habits—such as coming to the dentist regularly—play a much more important role in determining the health status of your mouth over time.

Have a question about dental hygiene habits? Or are you just wondering if a myth you have heard about teeth is true or not? Let us know on Facebook, where we have fun facts of the day and ongoing contests you can be a part of. To find out more about Hagen Dental, visit

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