Genetic link for tooth decay


New research suggests that variations within an individual’s taste pathway genes can impact their risk of dental decay. Previous studies have considered the influence of genetics on taste preference and dietary habits. ‘Taste Genes Associated with Dental Caries’-published in the Journal of Dental Research-takes that discussion one step further, suggesting that genetic variation in taste pathway genes could be connected with an individual’s risk of suffering from tooth decay.

The study examined families’ biological samples and demographic data and clinically assessed the health of their mouth, including the amount of dental decay. There are numerous known factors that cause tooth decay, including the bacteria in the mouth, dental care routines, diet, the structure of the teeth, fluoride, salivary flow and the makeup of saliva.

Multiple single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) assays for each gene were performed and analysed using transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) analysis (FBAT software) for the three stages of dental development first teeth, mixed dentition and adult teeth.

There were statistically significant connections between the taste genes TAS2R38 and TAS1R2 and the risk of decay or protection against it.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter said: “Although this is an early study, it could pave the way for some interesting breakthroughs. A large amount of a dentist’s time is spent dealing with dental decay. If we can tell in advance who is most at risk, then more preventive care can be given to protect those patients.”

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