Are Cavities Hereditary?

Categories: Oral Health

are cavities hereditaryScotts Valley, Santa Cruz, CA

Ever heard that you are what you eat? This is true, especially when you share meals. Your family dentist in Scotts Valley at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry wants to explain how tooth decay and gum disease can affect your entire family, starting with the hereditary aspect of oral diseases.

You can be genetically predisposed to certain oral health issues.

You can’t pick your genes, and heredity can have a negative impact on your dental health in several ways. For example, you might inherit an enamel defect, and having weakened enamel makes your teeth more vulnerable to both decay and injuries. Genetics also affects your body’s ability to produce saliva, a natural means of defense that helps to remove accumulated bacteria and food particles from your mouth. Saliva also remineralizes small imperfections that develop in your tooth enamel and neutralizes any acids that are present in the mouth. Diminished saliva production can raise your risk of getting cavities.

Genetics also determines the strength, or weakness, of your immune system. If your immune system isn’t operating at its best, you have less ability to fight off sickness or infection—such as the bacterial infection in the gums that leads to gum disease. Your immune system also can impact the progression of an existing case of gum disease. Some people, for example, may stay in the initial stage of gum disease—gingivitis–for their entire lives. Others may zoom through gingivitis into the advanced stage of gum disease, periodontitis. The immune system plays a role in this.

While genetics may have a slight impact on your oral health, so does how well (or not) you take care of your teeth and gums. If you are predisposed to developing cavities or gum disease, it is imperative that you follow a strict regimen of oral care, such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and getting your teeth cleaned twice a year. Plus, you should eat a balanced diet, restricting the intake of certain foods and beverages that would increase your risk of cavities and other oral health concerns.

Family members can impact the oral health of one another.

You can affect the dental health of your relatives, and vice versa, in ways that have nothing to do with genetics.

Diet is a huge influencer in the development of cavities and other issues such as gum disease. If you serve a diet that’s high in sugar, acid, carbohydrates, your children are eating the same thing and, therefore, more likely to develop cavities.

Hygiene habits also start at home. The vast majority of children learn how to brush their teeth from their parents or guardians. All the instructions in the world only can go so far, however. You also need to model good dental habits. Make sure to brush your teeth twice per day, floss daily, and maintain a regular schedule of check-ups every six months with your dentist in Los Gatos.

Not sharing utensils and cups is another great piece of advice, especially with young children, whose teeth and mouths still are developing. We all have bacteria in our mouths—good and bad—but the bacteria in an adult’s mouth can do more damage to the dental health of a young child.

Take ownership of your oral health

We know that, as grown-ups, each of us is responsible for our own health. That means taking care of yourself and making good choices. If you’re a parent, you’re also responsible for the health of your children, especially while they are young. That also means finding the right dental practice to care for your family—a dental practice like Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry. In addition to being a family dental practice, we also offer services in advanced specializations such as cosmetic dentistry, neuromuscular dentistry, sleep apnea treatment, and functional orthodontics. If you and your family are new to town, we welcome you to our practice. We currently are accepting new patients. To find out more about our practice, contact us by calling (831) 438-4411 if you’re in the areas of Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, California.