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Are cavities and bad teeth genetic?

After a lifetime of regular visits to the dentist, you still find yourself dealing with cavities. What about the other guy? The one with the perfect cavity-free smile that has rarely, if ever, even been to a dentist?

Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because to a certain extent, it is. The reason, say dental health professionals, is likely due to genetics. Cavities and all, our overall dental health has been associated to our genes. Genes have been shown to play a role in the shape, development and structure of teeth. Genes are also linked to tooth decay and gum disease.

In some cases, mutated genes can be responsible for tooth discoloration. This is the result of a malfunction of the protein in the enamel. It can also result in teeth breaking easily due to the lack of protective enamel.

According to the director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, approximately 60 percent of the risk of tooth decay is due to genetic factors. Things such as our preference for sweets (or not), along with taste, saliva strength, our personal bacteria and tooth enamel are genetically related.

For those prone to cavities, no matter how often you visit your dentist, avoiding sugary drinks is the best way to avoid more cavities. Sugar is seen as the biggest environmental factor that encourages tooth decay since it helps feed the bacteria that causes it.

Another tip to help keep cavities at bay. A study found that electric toothbrushes reduce dental plaque 21 percent more than a manual brush. The study also found that electric toothbrushes reduce gingivitis 11 percent more often.

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