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Why Do Some People Get Cavities and Not Others?

Couple brushing healthy teeth.

Are you someone who seems to get cavities often while someone around you has never had a cavity in their life? It might seem unfair, but some people are more prone to cavities than others. But that doesn't mean you have no control over your oral health.

The truth is that cavity development is influenced by a complex interplay of factors. From genetics and dental hygiene to diet and environmental influences, this article aims to shed light on the reasons behind cavities.

The Role of Genetics in Oral Health

Genetics certainly play a role in nearly every aspect of health, including oral health. People inherit several traits that can affect whether or not they develop cavities.

Tooth Enamel Density and Composition

Enamel (the protective outer layer of teeth) varies in density and composition among individuals. Some may have naturally denser enamel, providing a stronger barrier against bacterial attacks. Additionally, the mineral composition of the enamel can influence its resistance to acid erosion. Both factors are significantly influenced by genetics.


Many people don’t know that saliva often plays a significant role in maintaining oral health. It washes away food particles, neutralizes harmful acids, and even contains minerals that help in remineralization. Genes influence both the quality and quantity of saliva one has. Individuals with a genetic predisposition for better saliva production, or for saliva with a higher concentration of beneficial compounds, may have a natural defense against cavities.

Shape and Alignment of Teeth

The way our teeth are shaped and aligned is largely genetically determined. Those with naturally deep crevices and grooves in their teeth might have more areas where food particles can get trapped, increasing the risk of cavities. Similarly, those with crowded or misaligned teeth may find it challenging to clean between them, leading to increased bacterial buildup.

Immune Response to Bacterial Invasion

Our immune system's ability to ward off oral pathogens can also have a genetic component. Some people might be naturally equipped with an immune system that's more adept at combating the harmful bacteria that lead to cavities, while others might be more vulnerable.

Bacterial Composition and Oral Microbiome

Not all bacteria are created equal. Some people naturally have a more aggressive strain of cavity-causing bacteria in their mouths. For others, a disruption in the balance of good and bad bacteria can lead to an increase in harmful microbes, elevating the risk of cavities.

Exposure to Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral which is known to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce risk of decay. People who have access to fluoridated water or use fluoride toothpaste often benefit from its protective properties.

Lifestyle Factors

While some factors we have mentioned may be out of your control, that doesn't mean you can't prevent cavities. In fact, your lifestyle and healthy habits can be an important contributing factor when it comes to your oral health.

Dental Hygiene Habits

Regularly brushing and flossing can go a long way in preventing cavities. Those who maintain a consistent dental care routine, brushing twice per day and flossing at least once, are less likely to develop cavities. Using a flouride toothpaste can help strengthen enamel.

Diet and Nutritional Choices

What we consume directly affects our oral health. Foods rich in sugars and carbohydrates can feed the bacteria in our mouths. When bacteria break down these foods, they produce acid that erode tooth enamel, leading to cavities. On the other hand, those who maintain a balanced diet, rich in calcium and protein and low in sugars, often have stronger teeth that are more resistant to decay.

Regular Dental Visits

Getting regular dental visits is key to not only preventing cavities (we clean your teeth thoroughly and give you concentrated fluoride treatments) but also to early detection. And finding cavities early on can mean less invasive treatments.

If it's time for your twice-per-year dental check-up, reach out to schedule it today. And let's talk some more about how you can prevent cavities, whether you are prone to getting them often or not.

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