Q & A: Are Some More Prone to Cavities Than Others?

Let’s take a set of siblings who both brush and floss about the same amount; one has never had a cavity, and one is plagued with requiring a new filling almost every year. How is this possible? We answer the question:

Q: Are some people more prone to cavities than others?

A: In short, yes. But it depends on a few factors.

1. Tooth Shape/Design

To begin with, the particular shape of a person’s teeth (called tooth morphology) can certainly explain why someone may be more prone to cavities than another. Deep grooves in the teeth (particularly around the molars) provide more areas for bacteria to get trapped, and plaque to build up.

2. Bacteria Type

Although plaque is the main cavity-causing culprit, it’s quality over quantity. While a lot of plaque build-up is definitely a negative factor, there are specific strains of plaque bacteria that are more harmful than others. Depending on what strain (or group of strains) a person is carrying around, this can determine who is more or less likely to develop cavities throughout their life.

3. Diet

Since plaque bacteria requires fuel to survive, a sugar-heavy diet can contribute immensely to the cavity proneness of one person over another. It is not necessarily the quantity of sugar in the diet, but the frequency and exposure time to sugar on the teeth. In our above scenario, if one sibling is consuming highly sugary foods and/or drinks on a daily basis while the other consumes little to no sugar, this could result in more cavities despite their similar brushing habits.

4. Salivary Flow

Saliva works to help cleanse the mouth of bacteria by breaking down and washing away food particles. Simply put, the more saliva your mouth produces, the better chance it has of cleaning up the germs that can cause cavities. There are a couple of things that can be done to promote saliva production, such as drinking plenty of water and chewing gum.

Don’t forget that regular brushing and flossing (ideally twice per day) will contribute a great deal to warding off cavities, no matter what the environment of your mouth!

Feature image via Ask Dr. Apa