Does it seem like you get cavities at a higher rate than your friends, no matter how diligent you are about brushing and flossing? You may be surprised to learn that your genetics could be partially to blame.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay occurs when the outermost layer of the tooth starts to break down due to a film of bacteria called plaque that builds up on your tooth enamel and gumline. This bacteria consumes your dietary sugar and produces acidic byproducts that result in the formation of holes in your teeth called cavities.
How Do Genetics Come Into Play?
Certain inherited traits can increase your susceptibility to tooth decay:
- Crowded Teeth – Just like your height or hair color, the shape and size of your teeth is genetic. If you inherited crowded or especially grooved teeth that are difficult to floss or keep free from bacteria, you may find yourself developing more cavities.
- Saliva Production – Saliva is key to maintaining a healthy mouth, as it helps wash away food particles and neutralizes harmful acids. Some people are genetically disposed to a lower level of saliva production, which could make tooth decay more likely.
- Enamel Strength – Genetics can influence the strength of the outer layer of your teeth. If weak enamel runs in your family, it will be easier for cavities to form.
How to Combat Genetic-Related Tooth Decay
While you may have been dealt a bad hand when it comes to your inherited vulnerability to tooth decay, don’t despair! It just means you have to put a little more effort into your oral health habits. Be sure to brush twice a day every day for two minutes each time, floss every day, consume a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, avoid tobacco products, and visit the dentist for a routine cleaning and checkup every six months. Fluoride treatments and dental sealants can also provide additional defenses against tooth decay.
Dental Exams & Cleanings in Arlington, VA
If you think you may be genetically predisposed to tooth decay, routine exams and cleanings give our team a chance to keep a careful eye on things and catch and treat any potential problems early. Your smile can stay healthy and beautiful with diligent care. Contact Ballston Dental Care today to set up your next appointment!