Could Genes Play A Role In Caries Development In Children?

Parents of children with a lot of caries (tooth decay or cavities) often ask how they came to get so many of them. Do genes play a role? This blog post will answer this question in more detail below.

Genes And Caries Development

Can Genes Play a Role in Caries Development?

According to the American Dental Association, the short answer to this question is yes, genes can plan a role in the development of caries. Researchers have found that certain genetic variations can potentially cause tooth decay (as well as periodontitis), particularly variations in the beta defensin 1 gene, a gene responsible for providing a first line of defence against germs. In short, the variation of the gene makes you more susceptible to developing caries, or tooth decay.

There are other genetic factors that can play a role in the development of cavities. For example, those with softer enamel may be more likely to get cavities due to the fact that most cavities begin as a hole in the enamel. Similarly, people with crowded teeth may have difficulty flossing their teeth and therefore experience more cavities as a result. Research has supported all of these findings.

If your child consumes a healthy diet overall (and does not drink a lot of juice—even unsweetened juice), has good oral hygiene habits and visits the dentist twice a year and yet still has cavities, genetics could certainly be to blame.


The bottom line is that genes can certainly play a role in the development of cavities, which could be due to genetic variations, such as saliva that is less able to protect against germs, soft enamel or crowded teeth, to name just a few. While major dental associations like the Canadian Dental Association and American Dental Association acknowledge the role of genetics in the development of cavities, this consideration comes second to eating a healthy diet and maintaining good oral hygiene. If these are not a concern and your child has a lot of cavities, then genetics could certainly be to blame. Talk to your dentist about long-term options like dental sealants for your child.

Smile Town is a children’s dental clinic, dedicated to making your child’s dental experience positive and fun. If you would like more information on the topic of whether genetics are responsible for your child’s cavities and what you can do about it, click here.