Phone (513) 251-5500
May 1st, 2019

Bad Teeth? Don’t Blame Mom This Mother’s Day!

Category: cincinnati dentist

mom is not to blame for your oral health hagen dental dds

So, you feel like you have “bad teeth.” Is it possible that genetics is to blame?

Here’s why this Mother’s Day, you definitely can’t blame mom for “bad teeth”!

Your Genetics & Your Mouth

We’ve all made of genes, and those genes are a tiny section of our DNA. These genes help to shape how we look and how we behave in our environment.

genetics and oral health connection hagen dental cincinnatiGenes come from our parents, and they impact some of our physical traits and also can increase the chance of getting certain conditions or diseases that our parents may have had or carried.

There’s a lengthy list of what we get from our genetics, or what we get directly from our parents: eye color, hair color and texture, height, and even facial features come right from our parents! Since half of the DNA comes from your mother, and half comes from your father, that helps to explain why we don’t look exactly like just one of our parents.

So what aspects of our dental health and our teeth’s appearance come from our genetics? And can we blame our parents if we have a cavity? Well, that’s a good question! Let’s dig deeper to see what is in part determined by your parents and their genes…

Size and shape of your teeth

You guessed it: the size and shape of your teeth do come from mom and dad! Even when those first teeth appear is determined by mom and dad’s genes.

Baseline color of your teeth

The natural color of your teeth is one part of your physical appearance that is determined in part by your genes. But lifestyle factors almost always are going to have a great deal of impact on the tint or shade of your enamel over time, so you can’t blame mom or dad with that one if you feel like your teeth are started to get discolored.

Jaw structure and crooked teeth

Although it’s hard to define what people mean when they feel that they have so-called “bad teeth,” most of us want to have teeth that are aligned, straight, and symmetrical in the mouth.

Having crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, or other jaw-related issues, can be due to genetics.

Also consider that the way your teeth fit in your mouth is due to the size of your teeth, the size of your jaw, how you chew, and more. That’s shaped by genetics but lifestyle—thumb-sucking, what we do with our tongue, and more—all move, shift, and change the teeth, too.

That’s also why your teeth can be straightened and re-aligned, after all!

Tooth enamel

Arguably, one aspect of having great teeth is having healthy and strong enamel. Technically, the natural strength of your enamel is your genes, so you CAN thank mom and dad for that.

But…once again, even though that may be true, a strong determinant of your long-term enamel strength is going to be your daily and ongoing oral health habits and living a lifestyle that protects your enamel.


There is a gene that impacts how much saliva you produce! Recall that in the mouth, acids work to leech minerals from your enamel, which weakens the enamel over tie.

But your saliva (think: calcium and phosphates!) naturally work against this process and they natural add/protect minerals in the mouth. Of course our natural saliva only can do so much in the mouth, but it’s interesting to see how genes even impact our saliva strength (1).

Taste sensitivity

Do genes make us more inclined to eat sweets? (This is important to know because eating a great deal of sweets is one way we encourage the harmful oral bacteria to thrive and destroy our tooth enamel.)

So, the short answer to this question is no.

Here’s what is shaped in part by your genes: your taste-ability! “Taste ability” is a term used to describe a measure of the variety of things you have the ability to taste. We do have a gene variant for this ability, which certainly can, in theory, impact our food choices.

Keep this in mind, however: that this is slightly different than whether or not we are genetically predisposed to like certain foods or to crave more sweets.

Here’s what we know for now: genetic AND environmental effects are significant in predicting food preferences in our kids. So that means our children may have some predisposition to being able to taste a variety of flavors, but that isn’t a reason why they tend to avoid vegetables or why they have a “sweet tooth.” Much more important factors tend to be family influences, habits, your upbringing, culture, memories, context for the food, smell, and beyond (1).

your oral health is in your control

You Really Are In Control of Your Oral Health!

All in all, it’s clear that genetics do shape and play a role in how our teeth look, especially when we’re young. Genes also determine some of the baseline factors related to our teeth and oral health.

With that said, you are still in control of environmental factors, all of which will be significant determinants of your oral health and ability to combat tooth decay.

Translation: this Mother’s Day, don’t blame mom for any cavities! Instead, continue to each nutrient-dense foods and avoid added sugar when you can, load up on water as your beverage of choice, brush and floss each day, and keep up your regular hygiene visits with us!

Meet the Friendly and Compassionate Team at Hagen Dental

We keep your family smiling not just with quality treatment, but with the very friendly and compassionate manner with which it’s provided.

If it’s time for your hygiene visit, or if you’re ready to schedule a no-cost/no-obligation consultation with Dr. Hagen, schedule online or give us a call at (513) 251-5500.



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