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Do you have the cavity gene?

National statistics show gene or no gene, we're getting more cavities than ever

MIAMI. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – You’ve heard it countless times: it runs in the family. But usually, people are talking about the color of your hair or problems with your heart. However, a dental decay gene may also be something your parents have passed along to you.

Six-year-old Hoxie Flowers’ mom, Jennifer, figured out a fun way to teach her autistic son how to take care of his teeth.

“It was hard in the beginning to brush his teeth, very hard,” Jennifer told Ivanhoe.

Jennifer worries because cavities seem to run in her family.

“He's possibly prone like I am,” said Jennifer.

Professor and Dean of Nova Southeastern University Linda Niessen, DMD, MPH, is increasingly convinced there is, in fact, a cavity gene. 

“Dental research is showing us that in fact some people are much more prone to tooth decay or dental cavities than others,” detailed Dr. Niessen.

National statistics show gene or no gene, we’re getting more cavities than ever before.

Dr. Niessen said, “We saw it increasing in adults age 21 to 64 and we saw it in adults over age 65.”Niessen said, “We saw it increasing in adults age 21 to 64 and we saw it in adults over age 65.”

Whether or not you have the gene, Dr. Niessen said early and regular checkups can actually be lifesaving.

“An infection in the mouth, can in fact lead to an infection in the bloodstream, which can lead to death,” Dr. Niessen told Ivanhoe.

If you're a parent who gets cavities, your child may be at high risk, so Dr. Niessen recommended using sealants.

“Sealants are a plastic coating the dentist places on the chewing surface of the teeth where cavities are most prone,” said Dr. Niessen.

For adults: limit your caffeine, quit smoking, and keep your mouth hydrated. 

Jennifer said it made a huge difference to take Hoxie to a dentist who specializes in children on the autism spectrum.

“Now he runs in and brushes his teeth, it's fun for him now,” detailed Jennifer.

Experts believe diagnostic tests that measure salivary flow to determine tooth decay risk will one day be available. Remember, dental schools offer services at a much lower cost. For more information go to www.nova.dental.edu.

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Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Judy Reich, Videographer.