You know genetics can tell you a lot about what health issues could appear on your horizon, but you may not have connected the dots to include your oral health. In fact, understanding your family history can help you keep cavities and gum disease at bay.
So while you're all gathered around the table this season, introduce some of these common oral health issues to see where your family lands. It might feel a little strange at first, but you'll be surprised what gets people talking. Plus, it just might work wonders in avoiding the third conversation on politics.
Your parents probably told you candy causes cavities, but that’s not the only thing that causes them. Risk for cavities is 60% due to genetic factors such as preference for sweets, teeth enamel strength and saliva composition, according to the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. If members of your family often develop cavities, you might want to talk with your dentist about sealants or fluoride treatments.
Issue: Gum Disease
Genetics also play a role in gum disease, meaning you may have a predisposition for gum disease based on your family history. Gum disease starts with gingivitis, which can cause swollen, red and bleeding gums. Yikes. Over time, it can develop into a more severe condition called periodontitis if not treated. When this occurs, gums become infected and can lead to eventual tooth loss. If you have a family history of gum disease, stay extra vigilant about gum health by telling your dentist and looking for early signs.
While it’s not genetic, there is a direct relationship between how children take care of their teeth and how their parents do. Children learn the importance of preventive care like brushing, flossing, visiting the dentist and eating healthy predominantly from their parents. If they aren’t taught early on and don’t develop proper habits, they may overlook oral health, leading to problems down the road.
Sure, Uncle Joe and Grandma Jane probably didn't expect to be asked if they find it easy to keep their smiles healthy. But besides a little extra fodder for conversation, it might help you find some insight into your own smile.
Lauren Carrigan is the marketing and communications Strategist for Delta Dental of Arkansas. Lauren has a decade of experience crafting content for a mix of brands and a love for traveling.