It happens sometimes—you could be diligent with the brush and floss and end up with bad teeth. And you won’t even know why. Suddenly, your teeth develop out of alignment. Or you get tooth decay at the slightest indulgence. But don’t worry, it’s not some cruel trick by the universe. As it turns out, a good chunk of why some people have more cavity-prone teeth is genetic.
Of course, this isn’t the only reason why some people have bad teeth. When you have recurring disease, after all, it’s a two-way street. A genetic predisposition to cavities might make you more likely to develop them. Also, the factors that have a great impact on cavity formation are the biting surface of the teeth and saliva composition. Some individuals who have more bicarbonate in their saliva can balance acids more efficiently. Other people have deep grooves on their teeth’ biting surface, which are cavity-prone compared to those with no grooves or only have minor grooves. In the latter case, dental sealants can absolutely inhibit cavities. Sealants cover or fill the grooves where cavities may develop.
Also, neglecting to brush and floss regularly will probably make it easier for you to end up with cavities. Because 60% of your risk of cavity-prone teeth is genetic, you must know how cavities are hereditary.
So why do some people have bad teeth? And what makes up a genetic predisposition to cavities? Let’s look into the ways cavity-prone teeth are genetic.
Five ways your genetics play a role in your dental health
When you think of genetics and dental health, the first thing that probably comes to mind is how strong or weak your teeth may be. And in a way, this is true. Your genes, after all, do determine several dental aspects. These include tooth enamel health, saliva quality, and how your body reacts to the colonies of bacteria—good and bad—in your mouth.
This isn’t all there is, however. Part of what determines your genetic predisposition to cavities is how much you like sweets and how experimental you are for what you eat. But how does all of this come together?
- Your sweet preference and taste ability determine whether you’ll take a liking to tooth-healthy food or bacteria-friendly treats. If you have a fondness for sweets and aren’t too experimental in your taste preferences, you’re more likely to regularly indulge in sugary foods. This, of course, will not bode well for your teeth—mostly if they can’t fend for themselves properly. The opposite is also true.
- On the other hand, your tooth enamel strength, saliva quality, and microbiome determine how well your teeth hold up in the face of environmental threats. Those with a thicker enamel shell are undoubtedly more immune to bacterial attacks. So even if you do have a sweet tooth, you’re less likely to get cavities regardless. Your saliva does double duty clearing your teeth of residual sugars and food particles while infusing your teeth with the needed minerals. How well it does its job, then, also determines whether you’ll be at risk of tooth cavities (and a dead tooth) in the process. Finally, how your body reacts to your microbiome—the bacteria in your mouth—is crucial. It determines whether it allows harmful bacteria to increase or helps good bacteria fend them off.
Whether a person’s genetics leaves them more susceptible to cavities or not, it is critical to know that 3 factors cause cavities. These are:
- Abrasions from brushing or trauma
- Acids from the foods that a person eats or drinks every day
- Bacterial acids that are usually present in the mouth
A person may quickly reduce the acids within his or her mouth through daily flossing and regular brushing.
More than that, it is helpful to limit sodas’ consumption and refrain from consuming too much citrus. Oral hygiene-wise, consider using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
It is also possible for a person to limit their proneness to cavities if they earnestly adhere to these guidelines.
Aside from these, it helps inform the dentist of your current diet and hygiene routine at home.
This way, once the dentist knows more about your dental health, it will be easier to determine if you’re a perfect candidate for dental sealants. They may also provide advice regarding how you can adjust your daily routine and inform you if you are susceptible to future cavities.