How Genetics Affect Your Teeth

genesYour body is made up of genes which affect every aspect of your life. They determine the color of your hair, eyes, your height, the shape of your face, your body type, your personality, what diseases you might develop, and they even affect your teeth. That’s right, your genes can affect whether or not you develop tooth decay, and to what extent. Research shows that the strength of your tooth enamel may be based on your genes. Tooth enamel is one of the hardest, strongest substances in your body, but according to research all tooth enamel is not equal. Read on to find out how genetics affect your teeth.

Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel is a very strong, semi-clear substance that protects the rest of your tooth from damage, decay, and infection. Mature enamel is 96 percent minerals, it is hard and fracture tough. The other 3 percent is water, and 1 percent is organic. Regardless of how tough enamel is, the acids produced by harmful oral bacteria can eventually wear it away and cause decay. Pathogenic bacteria feed off of the sugar and food residue that remains on your teeth after eating or drinking. It was thought that tooth decay was due to a diet high in sugars and starches and poor oral hygiene, but it has been discovered that genetics play a role as well.


A research study analyzed the genetics and oral health of 400 children and 700 adults and found a link between tooth decay and proteins called keratins, which contribute to the strength of hair shafts. It was discovered that those subjects with mutations in certain hair keratin genes presented with more cavities. The mutation of a certain keratin gene reduced the strength of tooth enamel by altering the enamel structure. The results led researchers to believe that the mutated keratin gene compromises the integrity of tooth enamel resulting in increased dental caries for certain individuals.


As a native of northwest Indiana, Nicholas Cain, DDS, is dedicated to providing excellent general, preventive, and family dentistry services to the community that raised him. To schedule your appointment, call Healthy Smiles today at 219-938-2637.