Salivary Gland Abnormalities May Cause Caries in Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Patients
Dentists may be closer to developing better strategies for managing oral health in cleft lip/palate patients as a result of a new study.
Dentists may be closer to developing better strategies for managing oral health in cleft lip/palate (CLP) patients as a result of a new study, “Massively Increased Caries Susceptibility in an Irf6 Cleft Lip/Palate Model,” published in the Journal of Dental Research. The study team found that caries commonly associated with CLP might be caused by abnormalities in salivary glands.
Timothy Cox, PhD, a researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and lead author, says the team focused on the gene most commonly associated with CLP, Irf6, and discovered that mice with this specific gene mutation had salivary gland problems that affected gingival tissue and oral health. Researchers fed mice with and without the CLP mutation a high-sugar diet. After eight weeks, the mice with the CLP mutation had almost no molars left, while the mice without the mutation experienced only minor decay.
“The result was an oral environment that was too acidic and contained excess bacteria, which led to problems in the gingiva and more rapid tooth decay,” Cox explains. “We hope that as the research progresses, doctors and dentists can apply the findings in caring for cleft lip or cleft palate patients and protect their teeth starting in early childhood and into adulthood.”
From Decisions in Dentistry. February 2017;3(2):11.