Mann Family Dental
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Is Tooth Decay Hereditary?

December 15, 2014
Posted By: Dr. Russell D. Mann
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Tooth decay is one of the most chronic diseases in the world. More than half of the global population suffer from some form of tooth decay. Dental problems are preventable with the proper diet and dental care, but some studies have shown that genes could make the severity of tooth decay hereditary.

Some factors that could make tooth decay hereditary are:

  • The spacing of your teeth - Tight spaces between your teeth are a breeding ground for bacteria. A treatment like invisalign can help in these situations, but before proper spacing is achieved you could be getting cavities because of your dad’s crooked teeth.
  • Amount of saliva - How much saliva you produce can be based on genetics. Saliva flow helps to wash away bacteria in your mouth in between brushing and flossing. So if you have less saliva naturally, it could be more difficult for you to prevent cavities. This also becomes a problem for people on certain medications that give them dry mouth.
  • The acidity of your mouth - Studies have shown that the acidity of people’s saliva varies depending on their genes. People that have more acidic saliva could be more prone to tooth decay.

Although genetic risk factors exist, the behavioral causes of tooth decay still make up the vast majority of tooth decay we see to this day. Even if you are predisposed to cavities because of your family history, they can still be prevented with proper nutrition and dental care.

Behavioral risk factors that we battle every day are:

  • Diet - Your diet is your biggest culprit when it comes to tooth decay. Better oral health can be as simple as staying away from the bad foods and eating more foods that are good for your teeth.
  • Dental hygiene - Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once will keep bacteria at bay in between cleanings. And those twice a year professional cleanings are also necessary to get to the places your toothbrush doesn’t reach. Neglecting any part of the recommended oral hygiene routine will make you end up with cavities, no matter what your genetic makeup is.
  • Bad habits - Smoking, chewing tobacco, or using your teeth as tools will most definitely give you dental problems. Tooth grinding is another offender. Although this is commonly due to stress, it is still preventable with proper attention and care.

If your family seems to be prone to getting cavities, please don’t throw up your hands and relax your brushing and flossing routine because you think you’ll get cavities anyway. Pay attention to your oral health and you’ll avoid problems regardless of your genetics.

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