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Posts for: January, 2017

Genetics may indeed increase your chances of having primary-tooth cavities by up to 64%,  according to some studies, and having a sweet tooth can also be inherited.  But it isn’t clear which part of the cavity-forming process is affected. The way enamel is formed on the tooth is probably the best candidate for genetics to have an impact.  Information about the genetic roots to tooth decay comes mainly from research on identical twins.  But those studies also have shown that having a sweet tooth can be inherited


Even if you’re convinced you have the cavity gene,  there is solid evidence that without sugar you cannot get cavities. Therefore, reduce how much sugar you consume, and how frequently you ingest it, especially the kind that clings to teeth such as sticky candy and sugary drinks  If you believe you have a predisposition to tooth decay,  it is especially important to follow hygiene recommendations—brush twice a day, floss regularly, rinse daily with an antibacterial mouth wash and see a dentist at least twice a year.  Plastic sealants, which are applied in a dentist’s chair, are also very effective at preventing cavities.  This material covers the natural cracks in the teeth, which means food and sugar don’t get stuck in there.


Tooth decay is fairly common, and people shouldn’t be overly concerned with whether they are genetically predisposed to it or not. One-fifth of people in the U.S. have untreated cavities, which can lead to root canals and lots of pain. And many people neglect their oral hygiene—about 25% of Americans over age 60 have lost all their teeth.  Don’t sweat the genetics.  See your dentist often, brush regularly and get your cavities filled quickly, whether your parents had lots of cavities or not.


Forget sharks, barracudas or the bends. A big worry of scuba diving may be the dental bill.

A new survey of recreational scuba divers finds that 41 percent report dental problems related to diving. Most of the problems had to do with pain from the increased pressure underwater or from clutching the air regulator too tightly in their mouths, but a few people experienced loosened crowns or cracked fillings.

The survey was limited, but suggests that people should make sure their teeth are in good shape before they go deep.  An unhealthy tooth underwater would be much more obvious than on the surface.  One hundred feet underwater is the last place you want to be with a fractured tooth.

Barodontalgia is a toothache caused by the increase in pressure felt underwater (it can also happen at high altitudes because of low pressure). The condition, which occurs while the person is in the high- or low-pressure environment, is most common in people who have some sort of underlying dental condition, like a cavity or poorly completed filling. 

A small online surey of 100 divers showed, forty-one percent of respondents said they'd experienced dental symptoms while diving. Of those, 42 percent said they'd had barodontalgia. The second-most common symptom was pain from holding the air regulator too tightly (24 percent of those who'd had a dental symptom), and the third-most common problem was jaw pain (22 percent of those who'd had a dental symptom).

Five people reported that a crown — a cap that fits over a broken or damaged tooth — had loosened during a dive. One person reported a broken filling.  Possible causes are the dry air and awkward position of the jaw while clenching down on the regulator. Dive instructors reported more pain and problems than casual divers,

The small online survey is only a first step. A study group of more than 1,000 divers is being looked into. Dental safety should get more attention from scuba certification groups once this survey is completed. Divers are required to meet a standard of medical fitness before certification, but there are no dental health prerequisites.

In the meantime, divers can protect themselves by visiting the dentist before scuba diving to check for decay and other problems.