Are Cavities Genetic? Here’s Everything to Know

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Are Cavities Genetic? Here’s Everything to Know

The risk of developing cavities and tooth decay is genetic. Your genes can affect how your teeth develop, meaning that the development of your teeth can be why you are susceptible to dental issues.

While genetics are sometimes the cause of cavities, cavities can also develop due to the lack of poor oral hygiene, smoking, lack of saliva, or not flossing your teeth. To understand if cavities can be hereditary, it is essential to understand how genetics can affect oral health.

What Percent of Cavities are Genetic?

Many people wonder, “Are cavities hereditary?”. While cavities alone are not genetically passed down, the risk of dental susceptibility can be passed down. Genetics account for up to 65 percent of tooth decay or other dental predispositions.

Are cavities genetic? Some factors make the susceptibility to cavities or other dental issues genetic.


Your genes strongly determine the enamel of your teeth. People with strong enamel teeth more easily absorb vital minerals, such as fluoride and calcium.

These essential minerals help to keep the teeth strong and resistant to bacteria and plaque, which can be the reason for cavities.


Saliva can help prevent cavities and tooth decay by efficiently metabolizing vitamins and minerals. Therefore, your saliva can either hinder or aid the bacteria that cause cavities in your mouth.

Tasting Ability

While some people have a strong ability to taste, others do not, meaning that some people have a wider variety of tastes than others.

People with a stronger ability to taste are less likely to develop cavities or tooth decay, likely because their broader taste palate may help them consume fewer sweets.

Shape of Teeth

Is tooth decay hereditary? Sometimes, even the shape of your teeth due to genetics can contribute to cavities.

Everyone has the same shape of teeth. However, each person’s teeth vary by size and shape. If a person has teeth that are tight and crowded, it makes flossing difficult.

Without flossing regularly, there is a higher risk of developing a cavity due to the extra plaque buildup. Some people have teeth with more grooves in between their teeth, which gives the bacteria more space to gather.

Immune System

Every person has a lot of bacteria in their mouth, which is normal, but some bacteria are more harmful than others. If your immune system is compromised or does not work efficiently, it may not adequately protect your teeth from harmful bacteria.

Are Cavities Genetic: Can Parents Pass Down Cavities to Kids?

Parents can pass down the risk of developing cavities to their kids, especially mothers when pregnant with their children. Since tooth decay is a transmissible disease, the cavity-causing bacteria in the mother’s mouth can be passed down to a child in utero.

Mothers must visit their dentist regularly before and during pregnancy to ensure their mouths do not have cavity-causing bacteria.

In addition, sharing the same drink, or even a spoon or fork, with your child can contribute to them developing cavities through the transfer of saliva.

If a parent passes down the gene G20A, a child can be five times more likely to develop cavities throughout their lifetime than those who do not have this specific gene.

Are Some People More Prone to Cavities? Are Their Teeth?

Yes, certain teeth are more prone to cavities than others. For example, teeth with deep grooves are more likely to trap foods and develop cavities. Also, misaligned teeth can collect food or food particles between them, causing cavities.

If your teeth have thin enamel, you can also be more prone to developing cavities because you do not have the extra layer of protection.

When Genetics Do Not Contribute to Cavities

While the cause of cavities can be due to your genetics, often, it does not have to do with your genes. If you lack proper oral hygiene and have bad oral habits, you increase your likelihood of developing a cavity.

Smoking cigarettes also increases the risk of tooth decay because smoking decreases saliva production in your mouth. Since saliva is essential to help keep your teeth clean and wash away food particles throughout the day, insufficient saliva will leave the food particles stuck between your teeth.

Also, those with a diet high in starches or sugar are more likely to develop cavities. These are some other common causes of cavities that are not as well known:

Frequent Snacking

Snacking regularly brings a lot of sugar into contact with your teeth throughout the day. Limiting the number of snacks you consume throughout your day can help prevent cavities.

You should focus on consuming well-balanced meals instead of snacks, so you do not feel the need to eat between meals.


Snoring can decrease the health of your teeth over time because it causes your mouth to dry. A dry mouth makes it easier for harmful bacteria to spread throughout your mouth, potentially causing cavities.

Not Going to the Dentist

One of the best preventative measures to help prevent cavities in a child is regularly going to dental exams with the pediatric dentist.

While flossing and brushing your teeth are helpful in tooth decay prevention, they are not enough to keep cavities away altogether. Getting your teeth cleaned and checked twice yearly is the best way to prevent tooth decay and cavities.

Child with cavities

What Are the Symptoms of Cavities?

There are many symptoms of cavities to be aware of, as these signs and symptoms should not be ignored. If these symptoms occur, it is vital to visit the dentist to ensure the tooth decay does not become worse. Symptoms of a cavity include:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain when you bite down
  • Spontaneous toothaches
  • Mild to sharp pain when drinking or eating something cold, hot, or sweet
  • White, brown, or black staining on the tooth’s surface
  • Visible pits or holes in the teeth

Final Thoughts

While genetics can be the cause of cavities in children, it is crucial to remember how good oral hygiene can help prevent the development of tooth decay.

Regular visits to the pediatric dentist can help prevent cavities and promote good oral health. Make an appointment with The Super Dentists today!

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