Father’s Day is here, which means that it is time to start thinking of the ways you can thank your dad for all the things he’s given you. Of course, there is one thing that he may have contributed that you haven’t thought of: your teeth!
Scientists have different opinions on the extent that genetics affect our dental health. You cannot simply blame poor oral health on your parents. But what we do know is that there are some dental issues that run in families. Familiarizing yourself with your family’s dental history is a good way to know what you might be able to expect from your own teeth, especially as you age. So, what can you attribute to genetics, and what is unique to you?
If you had braces to correct crooked teeth, chances are your parents and siblings did too. Your genes are the big determiner of the size of your jaw. This, of course, contributes to the spacing and orientation of your teeth. Thankfully, orthodontic and dental care has made rapid progressions in recent decades, so you probably had a much more pleasant treatment than your father did. And don’t worry — if you have children, they will probably have an even easier one than you.
The orientation and timeline of your wisdom teeth are also affected, at least in part, by your genes. Not everyone even has wisdom teeth. Those lucky few may well have avoided wisdom tooth extraction because of their parents. But studies show that the way your wisdom teeth come in, how many you have, and even when they erupt (or if they erupt at all) may be determined by your family history. Anyone who has had their wisdom teeth removed knows that it isn’t much fun. If you were lucky enough to avoid it, thank Mom and Dad.
If you have oral cancer in your family, don’t feel panicked. Genetics does play a role in your risk of mouth cancer but only a small one. Lifestyle is a much bigger contributor. If you are worried about your chances of developing oral cancer, there are a few things you can do.
First, avoid tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption. Tobacco is one of the best ways to increase your risk of developing mouth or throat cancer. Secondly, be diligent about brushing and flossing your teeth, and report any abnormal findings to your dentist. Thirdly, schedule regular cleanings. Every six to 12 months is how often you need a dental cleaning. This is the best way to keep your mouth clean and healthy and address any problems in their early stages.
What Isn’t the Result of Genetics?
While some conditions are inherited from your parents, others are simply the result of lifestyle. Tooth decay, enamel damage, and stains are mostly due to smoking, alcohol, and diet choices. As for the things that are genetic, if you have great teeth, add that to the list of things to thank your father for this Father’s Day.