Most American adults have had cavities at some point in their life. But what exactly causes those cavities–is it because of something we do or is it based on our genes? Here, we’ll talk more about what tooth decay is and whether cavities are genetic.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities is severe tooth decay, which is the destruction of the hard outer layer of your tooth, also known as enamel. Enamel is worn away due to acids produced by plaque, a film of bacteria that constantly builds up on your teeth and along the gumline. When you consume foods and drinks that are high in simple carbohydrates and sugar, the bacteria in plaque feed off of the sugar and produce acids. The acid then eats away at your enamel and weakens it until a hole, or cavity, forms. Cavities often develop in hard-to-reach places in the mouth, such as between teeth, at the gumline, in the grooves and pits of your molars, and around bridgework or fillings.
If cavities are not treated by a dentist, the decay can spread to the inner layer of the teeth, called the pulp, that houses the nerves and blood vessels, and also to neighboring teeth. Damage by decay can lead to sensitive teeth, bad breath, infection, gum disease, and even tooth loss.
Are Cavities Genetic?
While most cavities are due to poor oral healthcare practices (such as tobacco use, an unhealthy diet high in sugar, and poor dental hygiene), research suggests that some people may have a genetic predisposition to cavities. The gene called beta defensin 1 (DEFB1) is vital to the body’s immune response, but if the body contains the variant G20A, you could be five times more likely to get cavities than those without the variant.
How Can You Prevent Cavities?
Luckily, there a number of easy ways that you can avoid and prevent cavities, even if you may have a genetic predisposition to tooth decay:
- The first is to practice exceptional oral health habits every single day, making sure to clean between all your teeth, to brush your tongue, and to clean those hard-to-reach places in the back of your mouth where bacteria tends to build up. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss at least once a day, and use toothpaste with fluoride, which helps to remineralize and strengthen tooth enamel.
- A healthy diet is also vital to banishing the risk of tooth decay. Eat foods high in fiber, calcium, vitamins, and minerals such as leafy green vegetables, carrots, celery, apples, yogurt, and cheese.
- Avoid snacks high in refined carbohydrates and sugars like potato chips, white bread, soda, and candy.
Additionally, visit us for checkups and cleanings every six months. Call today to schedule your appointment!Schedule My Checkup