Today we know that genetics have an important influence in virtually every physiological development we experience. But when it comes to the health of our teeth, we tend to think it's all the result of how good we take care of them. But just as your genes determine hair color and height, they are also responsible for your teeth. From the straightness of your smile to the alignment of your molars, genetics is to thank (or blame). Your genes determine even the hardness of your enamel. This is why people with impeccable brushing habits can find themselves chronically battling cavities while others can keep healthy teeth on a steady diet of bubble gum and candied apples.
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, have also been linked to genetics [source: Hassell]. You've heard of gingivitis, the minor swelling of the gums that advertisers throw around in while selling virtually every dental hygiene product on the market. Gingivitis is on one end of the spectrum, but more serious cases of periodontal disease can cause serious damage to the tissue and bone of the mouth and can result in severe infection and tooth loss.
Of course, genes aren't the only factor in gum disease. According to the CDC, half of all cases in the U.S. occur in smokers. Exposure to nicotine and lack of oxygen can trigger inflammation in the gums and cause cell and tissue damage [source: University of Maryland Medical Center].
So, are there certain groups of people who are more prone to cavities? Find out in the next section.