Dental benefits

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Are you prone to cavities?

Mouths vary significantly from person to person, but one thing’s for sure: Most of us will deal with tooth decay. In fact, 97 percent of the population will experience a cavity over the course of their lifetime. Read on to learn some of the genetic and lifestyle factors that make certain people more susceptible to cavities.

Sweet tooth

Most people know sugar is a primary culprit for the formation of cavities. But did you know that how often you expose your teeth to sugar is more important than how much sugar you eat? The strength of your sweet tooth and how frequently you crave sweets are influenced by genetics. That means the desire to seek out treats might be woven into your DNA.

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Tooth structure

The shape of your teeth influences your risk for cavities. Deeper crevices and pits in the top surface of teeth make people especially vulnerable to decay. If your teeth have large valleys, you might want to consider sealants. These are plastic coatings used to seal off biting surfaces from cavity-causing bacteria. Make sure to check with your dental coverage provider to find out if sealants are covered under your plan.

Another genetic factor is enamel strength. Tooth enamel works to protect the inner layers of teeth from decay. Depending on your genetic makeup, your enamel may be naturally harder or softer than average. The softer your enamel, the more easily it can break down to form cavities.

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Cavities develop when plaque produces acids that attack and demineralize tooth enamel. With enough exposure, those acids can dissolve the enamel, reaching and decaying inner layers of the tooth.

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Saliva

The minerals in your saliva and the amount of saliva help with remineralization – the process that keeps your teeth from developing cavities. Having less saliva can make you more prone to cavities. The amount of saliva you have is influenced by a host of factors such as snoring, diet and medication.

In addition, the composition of your saliva plays a part. The genetic makeup of your saliva may help reduce specific types of bacteria that cause cavities, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh.

No matter who you are or what your background, proper oral health and regular dental visits are key to stopping cavities. And most dental plans cover regular preventive checkups at little to no cost, so there’s no reason not to go!

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