Meyer Orthodontics in Brookings Blog

Don’t Blame Your Parents – There’s More to Crooked Teeth than Genes

smiling family

We can come to many conclusions about ourselves and our overall health by looking at our genes and family history. That’s why your medical doctor and other healthcare professionals ask you about family history when you go in for your first visit. As you likely know, you can be at risk for certain diseases based on your family history.

The same goes for your oral health – kind of. 

While you may be able to blame your parents for your crooked teeth, you still are in the driver’s seat for your oral health regardless of what theirs is like. 

Genetics Play a Role…

Crooked teeth are influenced by a combination of genes and environment.

The alignment of your teeth depends on several factors: the number and size of teeth, the size of your jaw, and how the teeth come together when we chew. These are indeed genetic factors. 

…but it’s Not the Final Word

Crooked teeth are also caused by environmental factors. These include things like sucking your thumb as a child or pushing your tongue against your teeth.

Bummer, huh? But, consider this – if environmental factors couldn’t affect the alignment of your teeth, then braces wouldn’t work either to make them straight again. These environmental factors will always exist, and that’s another reason why it’s important to wear your retainer after orthodontic treatment.

So, when it comes to crooked teeth, you can blame your parents sometimes.

Other Teeth Problems

Tooth decay, yellow teeth, bad breath… the list goes on.

Some of these issues have genetic roots. For example, a 2006 twin study found that some types of tooth bacteria are genetic, but those most likely to form cavities are caused by environmental factors.

In regards to having yellow teeth, this again is partly genetic and partly environmental. For example, people whose teeth develop thinner enamel generally have teeth that appear more yellow (a genetic/developmental factor).

The Good News

If all of these common oral health issues are only partly genetic, that means that you can mostly prevent them all by having great oral hygiene habits! Here are some of the most important tips:

It’s Up to You

Yes, genetics do play a role in oral health. But, it’s really up to you to create a smile that you’re proud of by developing good habits.

If you have any concerns about your oral health and are wondering if you or your child should invest in orthodontic treatment, contact us today. Your first consultation is free.