Genetic Link for Tooth Decay



A study in the Journal of Dental Research 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. But now it seems that we should consider our taste genes, too.

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.

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.”

Tooth decay is caused by the bacteria in plaque reacting with the sugars in our food and drinks to form acid that gradually dissolves the protective enamel coating of the teeth. Over time, this leads to a cavity. Decay is a major cause of fillings and extractions in the United Kingdom.

For those concerned about their dental health, regular checkups at the dentist can help tackle tooth decay. Cash plans, like those offered by Sovereign Health Care, offer tax-free cash back toward the cost of dental checkups and treatment, as well as other daily healthcare needs like glasses and contact lenses.