Scientists say the health of your teeth depends on a combination of genetics and dental hygiene. We all know that person who never brushes, eats tons of candy and rarely (if ever) has a cavity. Then there are those of us who floss regularly, yet still end up breathing in the laughing gas once or twice a year.

About 60% of the risk for tooth decay appears to be due to genetic factors, says Mary L. Marazita, director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.

Though genetic dentistry is still in its infancy, scientists have identified five areas where genes play a role in tooth decay:
  • Sweet preference
  • Tooth enamel
  • Taste ability
  • Saliva strength
  • Microbiome

In addition to genetics, bad dental habits are likely to run in the family. It’s good for the parents to set a good example of healthy dental routines – which include brushing, flossing, and rinsing.