Call Give us a Call Request Request Appointment Forms Download Our Forms Like Us Like us on Facebook Map View our Map Pay
Pay Now
Pay Now

Can Gum Disease Be Genetic?

July 4, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — riverplace @ 2:55 pm
Woman inspecting her mouth for signs of gum disease.

There are a lot of traits that you inherit from your parents—virtually everything from the color of your hair to the length of your pinky finger is determined by genetics. But did you know that your genes can also leave you vulnerable to certain medical conditions? These can vary from the serious to the mundane, but one you should definitely be aware of is gum disease! Believe it or not, gum disease isn’t just the result of poor oral habits—unfortunately, genetics plays a role as well. Keep reading to learn more from your dentist about this link along with some tips for keeping your smile healthy.

How Can My Genes Cause Gum Disease?

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine have found that children of parents with periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, are more likely to have problems with their own gums, even if they practice regular oral hygiene. Your body’s immune system contains a special gene called beta defensin 1, or DEFB1. This unique gene is responsible for helping to protect you from nasty problems like tooth decay and gum disease. But unfortunately, you can inherit DEFB1 deficiency from your parents, which puts you at a much higher risk for gum disease.

You can also inherit weaker enamel from your parents—and since your enamel compromises your tooth structure, weakened enamel can lead to tooth decay and cavities that increases your risk of gum disease.

Common Signs of Gum Disease

The signs of gum disease aren’t always obvious, but here are a few things you should keep an eye out for:

  • Chronic bad breath.
  • Sensitive and tender gums.
  • Excessive bleeding when brushing and flossing.
  • Dark red or purple gums (healthy gums are a shade of light pink).
  • Receding gumline.
  • Buildup of pus between gums.
  • Loose teeth.

Tips for Preventing Gum Disease

Just because your genes can influence your gums doesn’t mean you should neglect caring for them—a little effort can go a very long way towards keeping a clean mouth. That said, consider the following tips to ensure optimal oral health and to protect yourself from gum disease:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Don’t skip flossing; it’s just as important as brushing! Use dental floss, floss picks, or a Waterpik to reach those hard-to-access spaces inside your mouth.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet consisting of plenty of vitamins and nutrients, and also drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid unhealthy habits like smoking and using tobacco products, excessive alcohol consumption, overbrushing your teeth, and using your teeth as tools.
  • Visit your dentist for biannual checkups and cleanings.

Although your genes can be the catalyst for gum disease, your oral hygiene efforts are not futile; taking care of your mouth is still the best way to ensure that you’re protected from gum disease. If you’re concerned about how your genetics might be influencing the health of your gums, don’t hesitate to speak with your dentist.

About the Author

Dr. Megan McInnis has proudly served patients and families in the Portland area for several years. Dr. McInnis received her dental doctorate from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry and is a member of several professional organizations including the American Dental Association and the Oregon Dental Association. Her practice is pleased to offer many available services including periodontal therapy. If you or a loved one has questions or concerns about gum disease, or if you’d like to schedule a visit, feel free to visit Dr. McInnis’s website or give her a call: (503) 761-1414.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.