Can You “Inherit” Cavities? Family History and Oral Health

Treating cavities in Columbia, TNMaybe you have your mother’s eyes, your father’s hair, and your great-grandpa’s dry skin. When you think about it, nearly every aspect of your physical health is in some way determined by your family history. We know that some conditions, such as Huntington’s Disease and cystic fibrosis, are carried in genes, but what about common oral health issues? Is it possible that some people are predisposed to developing multiple cavities? Evidence suggests that this may be so.

Factors That Determine Cavity Risk

We see some patients whose brushing and flossing leaves much to be desired, yet they never develop cavities. Then there are those who are dedicated to their hygiene regimen, but they somehow manage to need a filling every year or so. Research suggests that as much as 60 percent of tooth decay risk has some genetic basis.

Grandma’s sweet tooth: Ever been told you have a sweet tooth? It turns out that certain gene variants determine to some degree an individual’s preference for sugary treats. It makes sense, then, that someone whose genes dictate a stronger affinity for sweets would face a greater risk of developing cavities.

Mom’s tooth enamel: Tooth enamel is recognized as the hardest natural substance in the human body. Still, that does not mean that everyone’s enamel is equally hard. Your genes determine the structure of your tooth enamel. If your enamel happens to be softer than normal, it is more easily decayed in the presence of bacteria.

Dad’s saliva: Your saliva works in the same way as mouthwash, rinsing away debris from teeth and gums. Its natural properties also help neutralize acids and prepare your food for digestion. However, some gene variants facilitate saliva’s ability to metabolize potassium, calcium, and additional elements that are instrumental in protecting teeth from decay.

What You Can Do

Even though you may be genetically predisposed to cavities, there are several simple things you can do to mitigate these risks. Excellent hygiene is your best bet. The American Dental Association advises that you should brush teeth two times a day, for two minutes per session. Floss once daily, and visit your dentist for cleaning and checkups twice a year. Fluoride treatments and sealants offer added protection against cavities.

About Your Columbia Family Dentist

For more information about family dentistry and treating cavities, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. David Foster, contact us by calling 931-388-3384. We welcome residents of Columbia, Lewisburg, Lawrenceburg, Hohenwald, Centerville, Pulaski, and the surrounding communities.