Caries, Cavities and Genetics
Most people nowadays are familiar with the pedagogic message that sugar, soft drinks and unhealthy lifestyle choices damage teeth. This message is still valid; and not just for the youth. However, recent research indicates that genetics are a significant factor in bad dental health.
Peter Holbrook, Professor at the Faculty of Odontology, has in recent years been working on a study aimed at discovering correlations between genetics and risk for damaged teeth and / or enamel deterioration. Potential genetic protection for certain types of dental diseases is also being sought in the research.
Holbrook says he uses the results of an extensive study on tooth decay and enamel deterioration, the MUNNIS-study; where one fifth of Icelandic children aged, 6, 12, and 15 participated. Results from this Icelandic study recently appeared in two articles in the Odontology journals, Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology. These results will be used in connection with the database of the Genetics Committee of the University of Iceland to explore if genetic factors play into whether dental decay and / or enamel deterioration is more likely in some individuals than others.
Holbrook says that the high quality of the data in the data base, and the accuracy of the Icelandic study make it reasonable to assume that the results of his study may answer important questions relating to why some people are more prone to these diseases than others.
Finally Holbrook says that if significant correlations are discovered this will prompt further research aimed at finding genes that may increase the risk of dental disease; or protect against them.