Are Cavities Genetic?

Woman getting a dental exam. posted by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 4/22/2024 in General

Your genetics have a big impact on your oral health—but how much can they increase your likelihood of developing cavities? Read on to learn if cavities are genetic and what you can do to prevent them. 

What Are Cavities?

Cavities are areas of tooth decay that cause permanent holes or openings in the surface of your teeth. Cavities can cause tooth sensitivity, toothaches, tooth loss, halitosis, gum disease, infections, and more if left unattended. 

Are Cavities Genetic?

The short answer is to a degree. Genetic factors impact about 60% of your tooth decay risk. Some genetic factors that can influence your likelihood of developing cavities include:

  • Tooth enamel. People with stronger enamel are less likely to develop cavities as their teeth have a stronger protective barrier.
  • Tooth alignment and shape. It’s more difficult to floss between crowded, tight teeth. In addition, some people have more grooves in their teeth. These factors can increase the likelihood that bacteria will be left behind to damage your enamel. 
  • Sugar cravings and tastebuds. Genetics can impact your sweet tooth—people who eat sugary foods frequently are more likely to have cavities. A stronger taste ability can decrease your consumption of sugary foods. Your genes can also affect your cravings—people who crave sugary foods are more likely to eat them and, in turn, develop cavities.
  • Saliva production. Saliva creates a thin film on your teeth to guard against bacteria. It also has antimicrobial agents that kill harmful bacteria. As it moves around your mouth, saliva helps clean out food and debris, remineralizes your teeth, and neutralizes the acidic compounds that can wear on your enamel. 
  • Immune system issues. People with compromised or poor immune systems may have a more difficult time fending off the bacteria that their mouth harbors, which can increase the likelihood of cavities.

Your genes will impact your likelihood of developing cavities to a degree. However, genetics aren’t the only factor at play. Your oral hygiene habits and overall health also impact your risk of developing cavities.

How To Prevent Cavities 

The best way to keep your teeth healthy is to prevent cavities. Whether or not you are genetically prone to cavities, there are things that everyone should do to ensure good oral hygiene and prevent cavities. 

  • Have a good oral hygiene routine. Keeping good oral hygiene is critical to preventing cavities. You should brush your teeth twice a day with a soft bristle brush. Never go to sleep without brushing your teeth. Ensure you use fluoride toothpaste and the proper brushing technique. You also should floss at least once a day
  • See your dentist for routine checkups. Regular dental visits are crucial—see your dentist every six months. During these visits, your dentist will perform an exam, clean your teeth, and recommend treatments based on their findings. This can help you stay on top of your oral health and prevent any issues from getting worse. 
  • Avoid foods that are bad for your teeth. Sugary things like candy and soda or acidic items like alcohol can wear on your teeth. Avoid these 9 worst foods for your teeth—or consume them in moderation.
  • Cut out tobacco products. Tobacco products, like chew, dip, and cigarettes can increase your risk of gum disease, tooth loss, and other oral health issues. 
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Along with supporting good overall health, a well-balanced diet can help support your oral health. 

Prevent Cavities With Support From the Right Dentist

From regular dental cleanings to dental treatments to guidance and advice, going to the dentist regularly is critical for cavity prevention. Our team of dentists at Kimball & Beecher is proud to help Iowa locals achieve good dental health. Contact us at any of our locations or schedule an appointment online today.

About The Author

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS

Dr. Beau Beecher is the founder and CEO, of Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry. Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry is known for being a patient-centered practice that puts comfort and convenience first. Over 50,000 patients in Iowa cities travel miles to experience the high level of ... read more

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