Are bad teeth genetic?

If you have always blamed your parents for your frequent dental visits, there’s some new research you might be interested in…

Are bad teeth genetic? Number 18 Dental Notting Hill dentist

It’s a question many of us have asked when we find ourselves making a hasty emergency dental appointment. Are bad teeth genetic?

Well, some new research suggests the answer is no.

A study conducted on twin siblings discovered that while a few factors, including the appearance of our teeth, are down to our parents’ genes – we can’t blame them for our cavities.

The study

205 pairs of identical twins (who develop from the same egg and share the same genetic makeup) and 280 pairs of non-identical twins aged 5-11 had their mouths swabbed to study the source of bacteria that triggers cavities.

Researchers found that, where present, the bacteria linked to genetic inheritance wasn’t found to be the source of cavities. Instead, the bacteria most commonly associated with decay – such as Streptococcus mutans – was higher in those who consumed more sugar.

What’s more, the presence of inherited bacteria is thought to reduce over time, while more ‘environmental’ bacteria increases – seeming to suggest that we are what we eat.

The whole picture?

Of course, studying the presence of certain bacteria is just one aspect of what influences the health of our smile.

But there are perhaps some things about your poor dental health that you may be able to blame your parents for.

Nature vs nurture

If you inherited misshapen, crooked or compacted teeth, then it’s well known that these can make cleaning more difficult and therefore mean more food gets trapped, which leads to more plaque. That’s why many parents opt for teeth straightening treatments for their kids, to make brushing easier and more effective.

It’s also thought that the toughness of your teeth’s enamel can be inherited and play a role in how susceptible you are to cavities. Plus, research in the past has linked your immune system as an influence in how well you fight off infections, which could be linked to how prone you are to tooth decay and aggressive forms of periodontitis.

Keeping decay at bay also means maintaining a healthy diet, low in fizzy, sugary drinks and foods, and ensuring good dental practices. If these were neglected while you were younger, they could have sown the seeds for persistent dental problems into your adult years.

You might not even have known you were doing anything wrong as there are plenty of hidden sugars in foods and drinks, with measures only now being taken to make consumers more aware.

Take control of your dental hygiene

While you may be looking to blame your parents for your mouth full of fillings, the good news is that if genes aren’t completely behind our dental health, we can take some control.

It’s never too late to cut your sugar intake and implement good dental hygiene – just take a look at our recent blog post on how to brush properly. Or for advice on how to conceal gaps or previous dental work, book an appointment at our Notting Hill dental practice.


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