Skip to main content

Oregon Family Magazine

Why Some People Get More Cavities

02/01/2020 ● By Sandy Kauten
You stick to a regular brushing schedule and see your dentist every six months, but still get cavities. Meanwhile, one of your friends or family members who hardly ever brushes and eats a bunch of sugary junk food never seems to get cavities at all. What gives?

The fact is some people are just more prone to cavities. There are a few reasons you could be more prone to cavities. For starters, you could chalk it up to genetics: Some people simply have more acidic saliva, more aggressive plaque bacteria in their mouth, or less exposure to fluoride, which in turn makes them more susceptible to cavities. Also, children who are born prematurely may have poorer enamel quality, putting them at greater risk for tooth decay.

Even though some of the reasons you or your child are cavity prone may not be under your control, cavities are 100 percent preventable. Recognizing that your mouth, or your child’s mouth, is more susceptible to cavities is the first step in developing a plan to prevent tooth decay and maintain a healthy smile.

  • Go to the dentist regularly. Your dentist will determine how frequently you and your child need to come in for exams and cleanings based on the health of your teeth and gums and other risk factors. This could be once a year, once every six months, or as frequently as every three months.
  • Avoid grazing on snacks throughout the day. I see a lot of problems occur among patients who snack throughout the day. Children who have high carb snacks like crackers, puffs, or cereals and/or drink juice multiple times between meals are at high risk for cavities. You’re much better off limiting kids to three square meals a day and offering snacks containing only proteins and vegetables, like nuts, cheese, or celery with a sugar-free peanut butter.
  • Drink only water in between meals. Water helps rinse food debris off your teeth and is a better alternative to sugary soda, sports/energy drinks, and juices that tend to coat your teeth with sugar and increase your cavity risk.
  • Chew gum after you eat. Gum can help remove food debris and stimulates saliva, which protects teeth.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss. A general rule is you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day and floss once a day. Until your children have the dexterity to neatly write their name, you should also be helping them brush their teeth. When they’re older, double check their brushing to make sure they continue to do a good job.
  • Make it fun for your kids to brush their teeth. You can find lots of free mobile apps to make the tooth-brushing routine more entertaining for your kids.

These tips are brought to you by Katherine Lane, DDS, pediatric dentist with Kaiser Permanente Dental. Learn more about Kaiser Permanente Dental at