Are Bad Teeth Hereditary?
Updated on March 18, 2024
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Are Bad Teeth Hereditary?
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Yes, bad teeth can be hereditary. Genetics can contribute to having bad teeth. Your genes can play a role in several things that affect tooth health, like:

  • Your tooth enamel’s strength
  • The quality of your saliva
  • How your body fights oral bacteria

Some people inherit genes that make teeth more at risk for problems like cavities and gum disease. Some genetic conditions that impact teeth development can be passed on, resulting in crooked or misshapen teeth.

While bad teeth could be hereditary, it isn’t the only factor. To keep your teeth healthy, make sure that you:

  • Brush teeth twice a day
  • Floss
  • Avoid too much sugar consumption
  • Get regular dental checkups (every six months is recommended, but check with your dentist if you’re more at risk for dental problems and how often they personally suggest based on their observations)
Are Bad Teeth Hereditary? 5


Bad teeth can be inherited. Your genes affect factors like tooth strength and your body’s defense against oral problems. While genetics play a role, practicing good oral hygiene, avoiding excess sugar, and seeing your dentist regularly can help maintain healthy teeth.

Are Bad Teeth Genetic?

Bad teeth can be genetic. Your genes dictate your bone structure, the shape of your mouth, and its size.

If your parents have crooked teeth, you’ll likely have the same problem. This is usually passed down from generation to generation.

Genes control how teeth develop naturally. Sometimes, teeth may not properly form, resulting in crooked or weakened teeth because of tooth enamel issues.

Similarly, some genes influence your preference for sweets.1 This is according to Mary L. Marazita, director of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine’s Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics.

Are Bad Teeth Hereditary? 6
Source: 123rf

The stronger your liking for sweets is, the higher your chance of developing tooth decay.

Saliva production is also determined by genetics. Some people produce less saliva than others, which can cause decay, cavities, and gum recession.2

The American Dental Association (ADA) believes that many common oral problems are caused by genetics and environmental factors. While genetic factors play a role in oral health issues, your parents are not entirely to blame. Your dental hygiene is also important.

While crooked teeth are hereditary, bad oral care habits are not.


Bad teeth can run in families due to genetics. If your parents had them, you can be prone to issues like crooked teeth or cavities. However, taking good care of your teeth through proper dental hygiene is vital for maintaining oral health.

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Genes That Affect Dental Health

The table below lists specific genes, their role in dental health, and the diseases they’re associated with.

This table is not a complete list of genes. However, knowing these can help you identify your risk factors for dental problems.

GeneRoleDisease Caused
AmeloblastinEnamel matrixCavities, dental fluorosis
AmelogeninTooth mineralizationAmelogenesis imperfecta, cavities, molar incisor hypomineralization
Beta-defensin 1Microbial protectionCavities
Carbonic Anhydrase VISaliva PH regulationCavities
EnamelinEnamel matrixAmelogenesis imperfecta, cavities, molar incisor hypomineralization
Kallikrein 4Enamel matrix strengtheningHypomaturation amelogenesis imperfecta
Matrix metalloproteinase 16Degradation of extracellular proteinsCavities
Mucin 5Biofilm formation inhibitionSusceptibility to cavities

Oral Health Conditions That Can Be Hereditary

The following oral health problems are partly influenced by genetics.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is present in up to 30% of the population.

It is characterized by sensitive and inflamed gums. Gum disease is often linked to tooth decay. This condition can lead to tooth and bone loss if left without proper management and treatment.

If gum disease is an ever-present problem in your family, tell your dentist about it.

Tooth Decay

More than ten genes are associated with developing dental caries, cavities, and tooth decay.

If you have children at greater risk of developing cavities, it’s best to talk to their dentist about cavity prevention. Fluoride treatments and sealants may work for them.

High-risk adults can benefit from using mouth rinses or prescription toothpaste that dental professionals recommend. Tooth decay won’t go away on its own. Ignoring it will only aggravate gum disease.

Frequent dental checkups and cleanings coupled with good oral hygiene can prevent the worsening of any oral health condition and avoid tooth loss.

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Source: 123rf

Weak Teeth 

In a condition known as Amelogenesis Imperfecta, gene mutations can cause enamel problems. Enamel is a protective layer that covers a tooth’s outer layer.

A thinner enamel generally causes the tooth to weaken and break easily. This is because it lacks the protection to fight oral bacteria and germs that cause cavities and tooth decay.

The American National Institute of Health says that approximately 14,000 people in the US are diagnosed with Amelogenesis Imperfecta.

Oral Cancer

This deadly disease causes thousands of deaths in the United States every year. Although alcohol use and tobacco use are said to be the main culprits, genetics play a role, too.

Some people carry specific genetic markers that increase their risk of developing oral cancer.3 The best way to lower the risk is to eat healthily, stop smoking, and drink alcohol in moderation.

Crooked Teeth

Tooth misalignment causes crooked teeth that sometimes lead to the need for braces.

Genetics is responsible for this because it determines the size of the jaw. Crooked teeth can cause underbites, overbites, gaps, and crowding.

An early visit to the orthodontist would be helpful for people with family members who have tooth misalignment.

The best time to go is when baby teeth have started to fall out, and permanent teeth have begun erupting.

Tooth Color

Dentinogenesis Imperfecta is a genetic disorder that affects one in 6,000-8,000 people. This causes teeth discoloration, which makes teeth appear yellow-brown or translucent blue-gray.

This condition not only causes teeth discoloration but also leads to the weakening of the teeth. Baby teeth and adult teeth are both at risk for Dentinogenesis Imperfecta.


Genetics can influence oral problems like gum disease, tooth decay, weak teeth, and crooked teeth. While genes play a role, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene and regular dental care to keep your teeth healthy and address these issues.

What to Do When You Have Bad Teeth

Bad teeth are the result of the combination of the following:

  • Environmental factors
  • Genetics
  • Bad oral habits

If you have bad teeth, no matter what the cause is, your dentist will tell you these:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Get regular dental checkups
  • Schedule frequent cleanings
Are Bad Teeth Hereditary? 8
Source: 123rf

Also, avoid sugary food and drinks, don’t chew on ice, stop smoking, drink a lot of water, and limit alcohol intake. If you’re wearing dentures, learn how to clean them properly.

Lastly, seek the advice of a dental health professional. Taking care of your teeth and mouth is easy if you know what to do.


To improve bad teeth, brush and floss, use fluoride toothpaste, and schedule regular dental checkups. Also, maintain a healthy lifestyle by avoiding sugary foods and smoking. If you have dentures, learn proper cleaning techniques and consult a dental professional for guidance.

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Updated on March 18, 2024
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3 sources cited
Updated on March 18, 2024
  1. Taste Genes Associated With Dental Caries.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

  2. Genetic Aspects of Dental Erosive Wear and Dental Caries.” National Library of Medicine.

  3. New Insights into Oral Cancer—Risk Factors and Prevention: A Review of Literature.” National Library of Medicine.

Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.