Are some people more prone to cavities?

Brian Maurer
July 13, 2021
Oral Health and Lifestyle Advice
minute read

How likely are you to develop a cavity? Dental caries, or cavities, are second only to the common cold. An astonishing 92% of American adults[1] age 20-64 have cavities in their permanent teeth.

Even those who have excellent oral hygiene habits can find themselves in the dentist’s chair for a filling.

This may make you wonder, are some people more prone to cavities? After all, what else would explain how people with a perfect oral health routine can still get them? Let’s take a look.

Are some people more prone to cavities?

Unfortunately for those who fall in this group, some people are more prone to cavities than others. This propensity can be caused by various factors including genetics, diet, and general health. Below we will highlight the common causes of increased cavity risk, and what you can do to prevent them. 

Common causes of consistently having more cavities

What are some of the signs or factors you should watch for? Let’s look at some of the most common causes that put you more at risk for developing cavities.

Oral Bacteria

You have a community of over 6 billion bacteria[2] living in your mouth.

Some of these bacteria are good bacteria that help keep your teeth strong. Some of these bacteria release acids that decay your tooth enamel, which creates cavities in your teeth.

An overabundance of the cavity causing bacteria living in your mouth can lead to cavities and other dental problems.


Your diet plays a huge role in your risk for cavities. The bad bacteria feed off sugar, so a diet full of sweets and simple carbs helps these bacteria to prosper.

Acidic foods and beverages can also damage the protective enamel on your teeth, causing deep grooves where bacteria can get stuck and flourish.

On the flip side, crunchy fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples can help remove the sticky plaque from your teeth that provides a safe haven for bad bacteria to grow. You can learn more about how your diet affects your oral health here.


The amount of saliva you have in your mouth is also a factor. Saliva helps to wash away bad bacteria and food particles that can help the bacteria to grow.

Tooth Shape

The shape and placement of your teeth are other important factors. Crooked teeth are harder to clean, thus making it harder to remove bits of food or sticky plaque from your teeth.

Receding Gums

It is common for older adults to experience gum recession as their teeth wear down. Unfortunately, this also puts them at a higher risk of developing cavities.

Dry Mouth

We mentioned earlier that saliva is important for helping to wash away bacteria and food. Unfortunately, some health conditions such as diabetes or stroke can cut down on the amount of saliva your body produces.

Furthermore, many medications provoke dry mouth as a side effect.


Children of people who get a lot of cavities tend to also get a lot of cavities. This is usually attributed to passing down poor dental care habits. However, hereditary factors can also have an effect.

Twin studies like these[3] suggest that there is a biological component that makes some people more predisposed to developing cavities.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Yes, some people are more prone to cavities than others, but this doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of dental fillings. Instead, you can implement an effective hygiene plan to keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Brushing your teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing to remove food particles from the crevices between your teeth, and visiting your dentist regularly can all inhibit plaque formation and reduce your risk of cavities.

Wondering if your efforts are enough? An easy way to find out is to measure the balance of good and bad bacteria in your mouth. You can easily find out by taking the Bristle oral health test. We’ll analyze the bacteria levels in your saliva and let you know your risk of cavities and gum disease, then give you an action plan with product and hygiene recommendations. 



[1] "Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Adults (Age 20 to 64) | National ...." Accessed 11 Jul. 2021.

[2] "Bacteria in Your Mouth Can Affect Your Brain - Healthline." 5 May. 2019, Accessed 11 Jul. 2021.

[3] "Evidence of a contribution of genetic factors to dental caries risk." Accessed 11 Jul. 2021.

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