Do you brush and floss daily? Though this question gives us the perfect opportunity to tell a little white lie to our dentists, oral health has a huge impact on health, both physical and mental well-being. The major oral health problems in most industrialized countries are dental caries and periodontitis. Dental caries (cavities, tooth decay) is described as damage on tooth surfaces that may develop into holes and stimulate dental nerves causing pain and discomfort. Periodontitis, on the other hand, is a serious gum infection causing inflammation and leading to tooth loss. Together, they were the 11th most prevalent causes of disease worldwide in 2016. In addition, the global economic costs of dental diseases exceeded $540 billion US dollars in 2015.
Both cavities and periodontitis are caused by bacteria colonizing teeth and dental pockets and are linked to poor dental hygiene. More recently, it has been reported that up to half of the risk in developing these dental health conditions could be your genes. However, these genetic risk factors are not fully understood. Researchers used data from two large scale cohorts, the UK biobank (UKB) and the Gene Lifestyle Interactions in Dental Endpoints (GLIDE) consortium. These epidemiologic cohorts include detailed information on clinical endpoints of dental diseases, data that was used to conduct a meta-analysis to identify genetic relationships with self-reported dental disease.
By evaluating self-reported data on decayed, missing and filled tooth surfaces (DMFS) and dentures, researchers identiﬁed a total of 47 novel risk loci, all of which were consistent across both cohort populations, with similar effect sizes. In particular, rs11676272, a single nucleotide polymorphism located on the adenylyl cyclase type 3 gene (ADCY3), was found to be significantly associated with both DMFS and denture use. The exact function of this gene is not entirely understood, but it plays a significant role in creating cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), an important messenger molecule for cells.
When it comes to genetic correlations between DMFS, denture use, and other health-related outcomes, scientists have previously found positive relationships with smoking, lung cancer and coronary artery disease, and negative correlations were found with longevity and particular educational attainment. Among the 47 risk loci discovered in this study, 26 (57%) have previously been associated with one or more non-dental diseases or health traits, including adiposity traits (11/26 overlaps), height (9/26 overlaps) and bone mineral density (3/26 overlaps).
As described above, the prevalence of DMFS and denture use are not specific in nature and have complex relationships with various human traits. This most recent publication suggests that these dental health indicators may be influenced by a wide range of potential mechanisms or mediators. If you would like to learn more, you can check out all of the findings here:
Are you interested in learning more about your genetic tendency for dental caries and periodontitis? You can login to your Genomelink dashboard to see this new genetic trait.