You’re a self-proclaimed dental hygiene freak. You brush every crevice of your teeth with fluoride toothpaste like there’s no tomorrow, and you never skip a flossing. You rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash when you brush, after each meal, and sometimes in the middle of the day just for fun. You are beyond diligent about your oral health.

Yet, you can’t seem to dodge the cavities. Every time you go to the dentist, you have a new one. Meanwhile, your cousin who eats Captain Crunch for every meal and goes days without flossing always gets a glowing report from the dentist. How is this possible?

We’re sorry to say, but some people are more prone to cavities than others. Some are factors we can control, and some are not. Here are seven reasons you might be more prone to cavities than others:

7 Reasons Why You Might Be More Prone to Cavities

(Mufid Majnun/unsplash)

1. Genetics

You may have gotten your good hair from your mom, but beauty always comes at a price. You also inherited her cavity-prone genetics. Yes, your family history can make you predisposed to getting cavities. About 60% of tooth decay risk comes from your genes. So, each time you get a cavity, you know who to aim your frustration at (thanks, mom or dad). If your family has a long history of getting cavities easily, you must be extra diligent about oral care. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth after eating sugary foods is vital. If you have kids, they may be predisposed to cavities as well. It’s important to get them into good dental health habits early on that will stick with them throughout their lives.

2. Oral Bacteria

Some people’s natural oral biome bacteria are more aggressive than others when they consume sugary foods. This means their mouth creates more acid that breaks down the tooth enamel. There is not always a reason for this. To combat the harmful bacteria, you can add an antibacterial mouthwash into your daily routine in addition to brushing and flossing. You could also take extra caution and do a rinse every time you eat sugar and acidic foods. The key is not allowing these types of foods to sit on your teeth very long and invite bacteria to come feed on them.

3. Receding Gums

You’ve seen receding hairlines, but have you seen receding gums? If you have receding gums, bacteria have easier access to the roots of your teeth. If you have this problem, brush gently over the receding area with a soft-bristled toothbrush and rinse with an enamel-strengthening mouthwash. It is also worth asking your dentist to ensure there’s no other reason for your receding gums, as it can sometimes indicate a more significant health problem. You may also ask your Utah family dentist for ways to prevent your gums from receding more.

4. Dry Mouth

Did you know hydration is an essential factor in keeping your teeth healthy? When you’re adequately hydrated, your mouth has plenty of saliva. Saliva is one of the biggest cavity fighters. Saliva washes away excess bits of food and bacteria from your teeth. When you are dehydrated and have a dry mouth, those little bacteria and bits of food sit on your teeth for too long, leading to cavities. Dry mouth can occur for many reasons, one being a side effect of medications. Some people struggle with dry mouth no matter what they do. Stay hydrated and talk to your dentist if you need more ways to fight dry mouth.

5. Diet

We all know why our dentists hand out boring toothbrushes on Halloween instead of candy. It’s because sugar is one of the leading causes of cavities. If you want to decrease your chance of getting a cavity, you should first assess your diet. What are you eating and drinking that might harm your oral health?

You could also start getting in the habit of rinsing your mouth after eating sugary foods and drinks. Sugars remain on and in between your teeth and along your gum line. Rinse and brush them away. When the sugars sit on your teeth, bacteria have ample time to feast on those sugars and erode the tooth enamel. Pay attention to what you eat and how it might affect your teeth.

Limit your consumption of soda, juice, candy, and complex carbs such as white bread. Crunchy fruits and vegetables are a good substitute. There’s a reason why an apple is considered “nature’s toothbrush.”

6. Tooth Shape

Have you ever considered how a tooth shape could affect its chances of getting a cavity? Everyone’s teeth are different. Some teeth have more grooves than others. More grooves mean more places for the food particles to hide out and party with Mr. Bacteria. In addition, teeth with more grooves are naturally harder to clean. So, if you have a tooth shape more prone to tooth decay, you must work extra hard to clean your teeth.

7. Smoking

There’s no sugar-coating it – smoking is horrible for your teeth. Using tobacco significantly increases your chance of developing cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer. According to the CDC, smoking also weakens your body’s immune system, making it much harder to fight off a gum infection. Smoking makes it nearly impossible for gum damage to heal. This is your encouragement to quit smoking or chewing tobacco. Quitting can be excruciatingly hard, but your future teeth and gums will thank you.

We’re not sure if it makes you feel better or worse that some people have a more profound family history of cavity carriers. While you can’t do anything about your genetics or tooth shape, you can do something about some of the other factors that may be increasing your risk for cavities. Add an antibacterial mouth rinse to your diet, be diligent and gentle about cleaning your receding gums, stay hydrated, eat a good diet, and kick your smoking habit to the curb. In addition, make sure to visit your Utah dentist every six months for your routine teeth cleanings.