Environmental Factors, Not Genetics, May Be Cause of Dental Caries

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A paper published in Pediatrics has found genetic makeup does not predispose individuals to dental caries. The findings suggest environmental factors overshadow genetics as the main cause of caries. Led by researchers at the University of Melbourne, the study, “Genetic and Early Life Environmental Influences on Dental Caries Risk: A Twin Study,” examined the teeth of 173 sets of Australian twins (identical and fraternal). The subjects were followed from the mothers’ pregnancy through age 6.

The investigators report identical twins with identical genomes each had varying degrees of caries, suggesting genetics does not make a person more susceptible to lesion development. The study also found that 24.1% of the subjects — or one in four — had advanced lesions.

These findings reinforce the importance of preventive treatment in caries management.

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