Perhaps you are diligent about oral hygiene. You brush your teeth twice a day, you floss regularly, and you visit your dentist for routine checkups. Despite all of your efforts, however, you might find that you still end up with new cavities. Are you doing something wrong, or are genetics to blame? To understand the answer to that question, let’s talk about what causes cavities and how you can protect your smile even if you seem to be more prone to dental decay than others.
Genetics Play a Role
Your DNA has a partial role in determining how susceptible you are to cavities. For example, your genes have a bearing on the hardness and thickness of your tooth enamel. The weaker or thinner the enamel is, the easier it is for plaque to eat through it and cause cavities. Using fluoridated oral hygiene products and being gentle when you brush your teeth can help to protect and strengthen your enamel.
Genetics also play a part in determining the shape and alignment of teeth. Crowded teeth, as well as teeth with deep grooves in them, are more likely to get food and bacteria stuck against the enamel. The longer those particles linger there, the greater opportunity they have to cause damage. Dental sealants or orthodontic treatment may be essential in correcting such issues.
Habits Are Important As Well
Even if you have excellent oral hygiene habits, you might have other habits that are actually sabotaging your smile.
- A diet high in sugar contributes to plaque buildup on the teeth. The plaque, in turn, leads to cavities.
- Smoking can lead to dry mouth. Without enough saliva to rinse away food particles and bacteria, you are at an increased risk of dental decay.
- Drinking a lot of acidic beverages can weaken tooth enamel and leave it vulnerable to decay.
If you have any of the above habits, the best course of action is to stop them altogether. If you need help, your dentist or general physician may be able to give you some tips to aid you as you adjust your lifestyle.
There are numerous other factors that could make you more likely to get cavities than the average person, including:
- Gum recession. When the gums recede, they expose the tooth roots, which do not have any enamel to protect them.
- Diabetes. Diabetes can lead to dry mouth.
- Anatomical abnormalities. Tongue tie, a malformed jaw, or other anatomical abnormalities may cause conditions that make it difficult for a person to keep a clean mouth.
If any of the above factors are applicable to you, your dentist or physician may be able to work with you to address your problem and reduce the risk of future dental decay.
Are you more prone to cavities than other people? Don’t be discouraged. Good daily habits, along with professional help, can go a long way to protecting your teeth and helping you to enjoy a healthy, strong smile.
About the Author
Dr. Erick Anderson is a general family dentist in Colorado Springs. He provides many services, including both preventive and restorative care. If you would like to learn how he can help you achieve and maintain a healthy mouth, contact our office at 719-593-0988.