One of the most common questions we get here at River Run Dental is “are cavities and bad teeth hereditary?” The truth is that while genetics may play a role, your dental hygiene habits are more important. Here’s a look at some of the genetic factors that may be correlated to higher rates of cavities.
The hard, outer surface layer of your teeth that works to protect against tooth decay is known as enamel. Believe it or not, tooth enamel is the hardest mineral substance in your body. Genetics can determine how strong your enamel is. If you have genetically weaker enamel, you may be more prone to cavities.
Saliva contains vital substances that your body needs to digest food and keep your teeth strong and healthy. It contains the proteins and minerals necessary to prevent cavities and gum decay. Research has proven that saliva may contain gene variants that affect how it fights bacteria in your mouth. This can be a factor when it comes to gum disease.
Just like bodies, teeth come in all types of shapes and sizes. If you were born with crowded teeth, you may have a more difficult time brushing and flossing than someone who has straight teeth. This can make it easier for plaque to settle and lead to cavities. Fortunately, the WaterPik and other modern flossing tools make it easier to get in those hard to reach places.
While you can’t control your genetic makeup, you can control your behaviors and how you care for your teeth. If you’d like to keep your teeth in optimal shape, it is your responsibility to brush them thoroughly at least twice a day and floss at least once. If you want to be an overachiever, you can floss during your morning routine and again at night right before you go to bed.
It is also advisable to visit the dentist every six months for a routine exam and cleaning. In addition, make an effort to stay away from sugary foods and beverages that can take a toll on your oral health and opt for healthier options instead. Our Wake Forest, NC dental friends at Wells Family Dental Group always remind patients that preventative maintenance is better than a root canal! While you don’t have to give up every cup of coffee or every Mountain Dew it can definitely improve your overall oral health if you take a hard look at your diet.
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For more information on how genetics may affect your oral health, we encourage you to contact our Richmond, VA dental office today at 804-262-1060. We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you with your oral health and the perfect smile.