Are bad teeth hereditary?

This is a tricky answer, because even if one has "bad teeth", there is a lot they can do to help them be as healthy as possible.

But to directly answer the question, almost every aspect of your health is affected to a degree by your genes. This is why "family history" is so important to your doctor. But like any other health aspect, you can increase your chances of coming out on the good side. Eating right, staying active, getting good sleep, etc. -- these will all help you be healthier than your parents were. And good oral hygiene will help your teeth be the best they can be (plus, maybe your parents/grandparents had "bad teeth" simply because oral hygiene has improved over the years as well.)

Teeth are inherited but the bad habits of previous generations do not have to be. A good oral hygiene regimen can prevent cavities and gum disease. Teeth alignment is what usually is inherited due to discrepancies in tooth shape, size and jaw size. For example, large teeth in a small jaw can lead to crowding of the teeth. Small teeth in a large jaw can lead to spacing. Spacing between the two front teeth is called a diastema which is an inherited trait. Eating Habits during development of the teeth can also affect the health of teeth. Not having enough calcium in the diet during teeth development may cause the teeth to be weaker and predispose it to cavities. Having fluoride in the diet during teeth development has also shown to strengthen teeth and resist cavity formation.

Like many other aspects of our health, there is a genetic component to teeth from the way they look to their overall health -- not all teeth are created equal. With that said, it is very important to take care of your teeth and gums in order to try to prevent any dental disease. Brushing, flossing, a healthy diet, and regular dental visits are a path to a healthy mouth. Remember, a healthy lifestyle will show up throughout your entire body!
Bad teeth can be used to describe several teeth with lots of decay or it can be used to describe teeth that are crooked or misaligned. Crooked teeth are usually passed down from generation to generation due to genetics. However, bad teeth that described teeth with lots of decay is usually from bad habits. Examples of bad habits are not brushing and flossing twice a day or eating lots of candy or drinking lots of sodas.

I think many people think that tooth decay has a genetic component because some families have more cavities than other families. Remember, tooth decay has a bacterial component to it. So, if you are kissing your family members or sharing drinks or food with them, you are passing along the bacteria that causes tooth decay. So if one member of your family is not taking care of their teeth well, it can cause the rest of the family to be at risk for tooth decay. That's why decay can run in families.
If your teeth are far from perfect, you can lay at least part of the blame on your mother and father. Both the spacing of your teeth and the health of your teeth and gums can be inherited. So if you have teeth that stick out or are too crowded, or if you've got gum disease, you may have picked up that tendency from your parents. Yet perfect teeth aren't just a product of your genes. No matter what kind of teeth you inherit, you won't have much reason to smile unless you take good care of them. So brush and floss daily, and see your dentist for regular check-ups.
To be very blunt, "bad teeth" are almost always a result of bad habits. While "crooked" or misaligned teeth are most often genetically influenced, the actual health of the teeth and gums is more affected by how we take care of them, than any other factor. Brushing at least twice per day, flossing regularly, not using tobacco products, and limiting pop intake are key elements in oral health. It is also generally accepted that seeing your dental professional at least twice per year for examination and cleaning is necessary to prevent dental health issues. This routine will also allow your dentist to "catch" problems when they are small, easier to treat, and less costly in the long run.
Bad teeth could be used when referring to crooked teeth or possibly when describing those with a large amount of cavities. People at risk for cavities usually are those who drink a number of sugary drinks, have poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, possibly heartburn disease, or do not have fluoridated water. Typically cavities are not a hereditary disorder although there has been research suggesting that a person may be born with less or altered teeth enamel putting them more at risk for getting cavities. Crooked teeth or misalignment of teeth is typically hereditary causing a difference in size of upper and/or lower jaw and variations in teeth size.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.