Are Gum Diseases Hereditary?

According to historical records, George Washington struggled with dental health his whole life. He allegedly passed away with only one natural tooth left in his mouth.

The first president’s wealth and fame still couldn’t save him from rotting teeth. In fact, most of our ancestors struggled with bad dental health.

If you’re struggling too, then you’re likely wondering — is gum disease hereditary? Is it preventable? Keep reading to find out all the answers.

Is Gum Disease Hereditary?

If you have significant dental issues, have you looked at your family members?  Do they suffer from similar problems, too?

Periodontal disease, gingivitis, and other forms of gum disease are, in part, hereditary. That means it gets passed along from parent to child.

Dentists have suspected the hereditary nature of gum disease since the 1980s. Recent DNA testing techniques have all but confirmed decades of suspicion.

Does that mean your fate’s predetermined? Are you doomed to suffer from gum disease regardless of how well you care for your teeth?

Not exactly.

Keep reading to get a better understanding of the role genetics play in gum disease.

Nature Versus Nurture: Understanding Genetics

A disease that’s hereditary gets passed along via genetic codes. Our DNA gets spliced together with bits and pieces from each parent.

But, genes are not 100% deterministic. Certain environmental factors must activate the genetic response.

What that means, in short, is that both genetics and our environment shape our conditions. Genes may predispose us to gum disease, but they don’t determine whether we develop it.

By changing our environment, we can prevent hereditary conditions from manifesting.

When it comes to nature versus nature, the debate appears to be null. The general consensus today is that both contribute. To quote the famous commercial, “why not both?” 

Environmental Causes of Gum Disease

So, we need to look at the environmental causes of gum disease to get to the root of the issue. Here are a few things that lead to gum disease:

  • Substantial bacteria in the mouth
  • Plaque buildup
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Certain medications

Have you ever wondered how to reverse gum disease? The process starts with good oral hygiene. Buy a soft-bristled toothbrush and get in the habit of brushing at least twice a day.

Try to encourage yourself to floss and use mouthwash. Avoid sugary substances (especially drinks) and instead, go for healthy superfoods. Talk to your dentist about getting routine cleanings.

Once you change your mouth’s environment, gum infection and disease won’t be able to thrive.

Healthy Gums and a Healthy Smile

So, is gum disease hereditary? Yes, it is.

But, that doesn’t mean those without the gene can’t get gum disease. It also doesn’t mean those with the gene will get the disease for certain.

Proper dental hygiene coupled with the right diet will prevent gum disease. This holds true even when you’re predisposed to it.

Gum disease and tooth infections wreak havoc on our health. Are you looking for more ways to prevent them?  Check out our other health-related articles for more tips on keeping a healthy mouth.