Hereditary traits and factors such as obesity, education and personality may play a role in tooth decay and gum disease,finds a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications.
“Tooth decay and periodontitis, also known as gum disease, are among the most common diseases around the world but unlike many other well-known diseases knowledge of how genes affect the risk of developing these dental diseases is still limited”, said researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK in a news release.
The study combined data from nine international clinical studies with 62,000 participants together with data on self-reported dental health from the UK Biobank including 461,000 participants.
The analysis involved scanning millions of strategic points in the genome to find genes with links to dental diseases.
The researchers were able to identify 47 new genes with connections to tooth decay.
According to the study, the genes that could be linked to tooth decay are those that help form teeth and the jawbone, those with protective functions in saliva and those which affect the bacteria found on the teeth.The study also reported a previously known immune-related gene is be linked to periodontitis.
The researchers also looked at the genetic link to cardiovascular and metabolic health factors such as smoking, obesity, education and personality to try and understand connections with dental health.
Using a technique called Mendelian randomisation, the researchers reported that there may be a causal link between decay and some cardiovascular-metabolic risk factors.
“In the future, studies like this may pave the way to identifying people who are at particular risk of dental problems,” said Simon Haworth, from Bristol Population Health Science Institute.
“However, no matter what genes people carry, good oral hygiene and diet are the most important things people can do to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease,” he added.