If only I could count all the times I have had a patient sit in the chair and tell me that their teeth are bad because they have bad genetics or a family history of bad teeth. They are sure that genetics are the only factor that plays into their poor oral health and all the cavities they have. I try to be as impartial as one can be when I am talking with my patients, but this topic is one that I feel needs to be addressed. Patients need to be aware of the truth between genetics and their own personal oral health care.
Yes, genetics play a role in the make up of your teeth and without question, genetics play a significant role in the people we ultimately grow to be. So yes, there are different genetic variations among people and there are even some genetic anomalies that will completely alter the shape, size and consistency of the enamel causing malformation of the entire tooth. These are factors that can play into making you more susceptible to cavities, but it’s not the only thing. Genetics determines the make up and composition of the enamel. It lays out a blueprint for how the structure of the tooth is to be assembled. Because of this make up it is imperative to be diligent on your home care.
Just because a person may have “bad genetics” or a “family history of bad teeth” doesn’t mean that person will have bad oral health but it could make them more susceptible to having cavities or periodontal issues. However it only reinforces how necessary diligent home care is. It sets the precedence for how they should care for their teeth and how important their dental exams and cleanings truly are. Brushing twice a day and flossing is the recommended care that we have always been taught but, if someone is aware of “bad genetics” doing more is the best thing you can possibly do.
What are some things someone with “soft teeth” could do? Good question, maintaining a healthy diet. Cutting down on sugar, which is the main food source for bacteria. Cutting out acidic foods that erode the already soft enamel and increasing fluoride intake, which will help to provide re-mineralization to teeth that are damaged. Rinsing with a good mouthwash that contains antimicrobial elements and fluoride. Getting into your dentist and hygienist every 6 months, or more, is a major factor.
So I agree, while genetic factors can create an environment in which tooth problems can take root. A proper dental care routine will go a long way in maintaining the healthy teeth you desire.