Have Cavities? Blame your Genes!

Let’s be honest: we all know that person who isn’t good to his or her teeth. They don’t brush regularly, don’t know how to use floss, drink soda by the barrel… and never have a cavity.

Then there are the folks that religiously brush twice a day and floss, never eat candy or cake or anything sweet… and still have to fill a cavity at least once a year.

What gives? There must be more to dental health than just dental hygiene!

Research is now showing what the two examples above prove: Your genetics play a part in your overall dental health.

image of DNAThis is a very new area of science, but there appear to be at least five ways your genetics may impact your teeth:

Each person has a “sweet preference”, which means that some people are strongly drawn to sugary foods and drinks, while others can do without them. Everyone already knows that more sweets usually mean more cavities.

Some people just have stronger or softer tooth enamel than others. Soft tooth enamel means it’s easier for bacteria to dig in and cause cavities.

There is a connection between tooth decay and a person’s genetic “taste ability”, or the ability to differentiate between many different tastes. So, if a person has a very discerning palate, or can just “taste more things better”, they are more likely to have fewer cavities.

Some people’s saliva is better at helping teeth resist decay. This seems to be due to how the body processes calcium and other nutrients. In short, genetically stronger spit equals healthier teeth and less tooth decay.

All people have (and should have) all sorts of bacteria that live in their mouths. This natural and necessary bacteria make up an individual’s microbiome. Some people seem to have a healthier balance, and therefore, a decreased risk of tooth decay and cavities.

The link between genetics and the risk for tooth decay is an infant science. Even without clear answers, though, it’s important and interesting to know that your dental health isn’t only affected by whether you brush and floss as you should.

Still… remember to brush and floss!