By Susan Braden
Rising cavity rates and aggressive periodontal disease may be linked with certain genetic codes, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh dentistry school. Dental insurance benefits may assist those who cannot seem to avoid tooth decay, known as caries.
Scientists took on the task of analyzing 300 anonymous dentistry records with accompanying saliva samples and evaluated them based on fillings, cavities and missing teeth due to caries. They discovered relationships in particular genetic combinations that may signal differences in the body’s ability to fight bacteria colonization, particularly in the mouth.
They may later be able to look for these markers when testing for oral disease or infection. Researchers hope to use the knowledge gained from this study to develop new ways to support and treat people who are especially susceptible to caries.
Scientists from the University also carried out a study focusing on genetic traits within 389 people from 55 families to find links to aggressive periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease. They discovered possible links between a certain gene and the disease.
Whether or not a person is genetically predisposed to oral disease, healthy habits are still necessary to keep the mouth in top condition. Genetic variations merely indicate susceptibility -- they do not indicate with certainty that certain people will or will not develop decay.
Flossing daily and brushing the teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush and plaque-removing toothpaste can also make a large difference in a person’s susceptibility to tooth decay and gum disease. Insurance can help cover the cost of regular checkups and cleanings from a dentist. If insurance companies are reluctant to cover issues resulting from genetic predisposition, a discount plan, an alternative to dental insurance, may help reduce the cost of checkups and treatments.