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Just looking at our kids or seeing an old photo of when we were young is evidence enough that parents pass down many traits to their children. Children’s genetic makeup is a combination of both their biological mother and father. Traits such as eye colour and hair colour can be passed down from parents to children, so does that mean that ‘bad teeth’ can be hereditary as well?

This question depends mainly on your definition of ‘bad teeth’.  Most true genetic conditions of the mouth are rare.

Some of the more common conditions include:

Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate

Clefting, the incomplete fusion of the lip and/or palate, can appear alone or as part of a hereditary syndrome. Family history of clefting increases the chances of inheriting the disorder.

Amelogenesis imperfecta

An inherited disorder, resulting in the defective formation of tooth enamel, the hard outer surface of the tooth. The disease affects both baby and adult teeth and because of thin and soft enamel teeth are yellow and easily damaged.

Dentinogenesis imperfecta

An inherited disorder, resulting in defective formation of tooth dentine. In this condition, teeth are discolored (blue-gray or yellow–brown) and transparent. Both baby and adult teeth have damage. They are weaker, easy to damage and prone to falling out.


Anodontia, also called congenitally missing teeth, is a hereditary condition in which one or more adult teeth do not develop, though baby teeth usually erupt. Anodontia may involve the absence of all (total anodontia) or only some (hypodontia) teeth.   Cases of hypodontia/oligodontia may or may not be associated with various syndromes such as hypohydrotic ectodermal dysplasia, cleft of the lip or palate etc.

We can identify all of these conditions early in life and they require varying degrees of treatment. 

If by ‘bad teeth’ you are referring to tooth decay or gum disease there is some evidence that shows certain individuals have a greater genetic susceptibility to contracting these diseases.

However, recent research has shown that overwhelmingly it is the child’s environment and not genetics that plays the most important role in whether or not the child will experience these diseases.  If your child has a low sugar diet, has excellent oral hygiene and is constantly well hydrated (to optimize saliva) they will be at very low risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease during their life.  Of course, having regular dental checks is also paramount so that potential problems can be prevented or treated early.

How to keep your kids teeth healthy:

  1. Limit their intake of sugary food and drink.
  2. Help them with their brushing and make sure they brush for two minutes morning and night.
  3. Make sure they drink plenty of plain water.
  4. Bring them to see their dentist every six months.

Visit the Sunbird Orthodontics website or read more HERE.