Carious lesions are distributed nonuniformly across tooth surfaces of the complete dentition, suggesting that the effects of risk factors may be surface-specific. Whether genes differentially affect caries risk across tooth surfaces is unknown. We investigated the role of genetics on two classes of tooth surfaces, pit and fissure surfaces (PFS) and smooth surfaces (SMS), in more than 2,600 subjects from 740 families. Participants were examined for surface-level evidence of dental caries, and caries scores for permanent and/or primary teeth were generated separately for PFS and SMS. Heritability estimates (h(2), i.e. the proportion of trait variation due to genes) of PFS and SMS caries scores were obtained using likelihood methods. The genetic correlations between PFS and SMS caries scores were calculated to assess the degree to which traits covary due to common genetic effects. Overall, the heritability of caries scores was similar for PFS (h(2) = 19-53%; p < 0.001) and SMS (h(2) = 17-42%; p < 0.001). Heritability of caries scores for both PFS and SMS in the primary dentition was greater than in the permanent dentition and total dentition. With one exception, the genetic correlation between PFS and SMS caries scores was not significantly different from 100%, indicating that (mostly) common genes are involved in the risk of caries for both surface types. Genetic correlation for the primary dentition dfs (decay + filled surfaces) was significantly less than 100% (p < 0.001), indicating that genetic factors may exert differential effects on caries risk in PFS versus SMS in the primary dentition.