No one wants to have bad teeth or poor dental health. But how much of our oral health is determined by genetics, and how much is determined by our own actions? Can we blame genetics for everything? Or is how we take care of our teeth all that matters? The truth is, it’s a mix of the two. There are some things that are predetermined for you before you’re born, but there are other things you can take charge of yourself. Let’s break it down:
What Does Genetics Control?
- Jaw Shape — The size and shape of your jaw and teeth are due to your genetic makeup, and therefore are out of your control. This includes the size of the gaps in between your teeth.
- Enamel — The enamel on your teeth starts forming in utero and stops when you’re about one year old. This is genetics working its magic. Some people have great enamel and some have enamel that is patchy, weakening the tooth’s protection. It’s up to you to take care of the enamel you have, because your body cannot produce more.
- Misshapen Teeth — If your permanent “adult” teeth came in misshapen, or not at all, this is due to genetics and not your fault.
- Cancer Risks — While some things, like smoking, can drastically increase your risk of developing oral cancer, many cancers have a genetic component. Therefore, you’re more likely to be at risk if your parents or grandparents had it.
What Can I Do to Improve My Dental Health?
Sometimes it can seem like the genetic lottery is stacked against you, but there are things you can do to take care of your teeth that will significantly improve your dental health. Here are just a few:
- Brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes at a time.
- Floss once a day, either in the morning or at night, whichever is easiest for you to stick to.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for a cleaning, even if you teeth feel healthy.
- Don’t smoke! This will hurt your dental health and also your overall health.
- Limit sugary drinks like soda and sweetened iced tea, or give them up altogether.
Oral hygiene really matters! The power is in your hands. If you have questions about how to improve your dental health, give one of our three locations a call today to speak with our friendly team.