Are Cavities Hereditary?

Sometimes no matter how regularly you brush and floss your teeth or visit the dentist — some people are just prone to cavities.

But why?

Does family history make you more prone to cavities? Or is oral hygiene really the only factor?

Research shows that may be it’s a little of both.

The Genetic Link

Like left-handed people and redheads, cavities can be genetic. Here’s how:

  • Enamel

Genes are the primary producer for enamel structure. The stronger your enamel surface, the better it’s able to absorb key minerals, like fluoride and calcium.

  • Saliva

Saliva can be used to find polymorphisms — gene variants that take many forms. And your specific spit can help (or hurt) the amount of cavity-causing bacteria found in your mouth, according to a 2010 study.

  • Shape

Teeth, just like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Those cursed with crowded teeth may experience difficulty flossing, making it easy for plaque to stay put. Similarly, teeth with more grooves give bacteria a surplus of hiding spots.

When Poor Oral Hygiene is to Blame

Most cavities are 100% preventable,  but hitting the genetic jackpot will only get you so far if you neglect your teeth. Smoking and sugar are obvious oral health no-no’s, but what about the lesser-known culprits?

Here are some not-so-obvious behaviors that can contribute to cavities:

  • Snoring

Snoring can irritate your teeth (in addition to your spouse). Breathing through your mouth has been shown to increase dry mouth, creating a perfect place for germs to go wild.

  • Constant Snacking

After you eat sugar, it takes just 20 seconds to convert it to cavity-causing acid. Consistent sipping and snacking reintroduces sugar to your smile. In terms of eating/snacking, time trumps amount.

  • Missing Dental Appointments

If you’ve missed a dental appointment, it can be hard to make it up and get back on a schedule, but don’t let it slip! Missing your dental visits for two or more years significantly increases your risk for tooth decay.

No matter how religious your regimen, brushing and flossing can’t do it all. Dentists do damage control on your teeth and can detect issues before they start — that’s why it’s so important to see the dentist regularly and maintain good oral hygiene and eating habits.

Got questions for us about your teeth? Give us a call, or talk us at your next visit.

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Dentist In Pasadena, CA, Sean T. Ky DDS
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