Genetics and Dental Caries, is there a Connection?

Genetics and Dental Caries is a developing field of research, however strides are being made and information is coming forward that can help us better understand the role genetics play in our oral health.

The NIH Consensus Development Program released a statement in 2001 and listed six major clinical caries research directions. One of these directions was the need for genetic studies to identify genes and genetic markers of diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic value. This last decade has seen a steep increase in studies investigating the presence of genetic factors influencing individual susceptibility to caries. This review revisits recent caries human genetic studies and provides a perspective for future studies in order to fulfil their promise of revolutionizing our understanding of and the standard of care for the most prevalent bacteria-mediated non-contagious disease in the world. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.

There is such a broad array of genetics that play a role in dental caries. Our capacity to study them has increased significantly over the past 10 years.


Current Dental Caries Genes
  • Enamel Formation Genes: 7  (AMELX, ENAM)
  • Immune Response Genes: 7 (BDEF1, CD14)
  • Saliva Genes: 2 (AQP5, PRH1)
  • Other Genes: 11 (TAS2R38, MMP13)
  • 34 Total at present


What we now know is that genetics loads the gun and the environment pulls the trigger so to speak.


As practitioners, we cannot change the genetic makeup of our patients, but we can help them understand their risk and make changes to their environment to help mitigate damage.

Interestingly, a study done on young adults; 77 caries active, 77 caries free looked at environmental and genetic factors. They found that:

“Based on stepwise multiple linear regression analyses, dental plaque amount, lactobacilli count, age, and saliva buffer capacity, as well as DEFB1, TAS2R38, and CA6 (Carbonic anhydrase) gene polymorphism, explained a total of 87.8% of the variations in DMFT scores.


What this tells us is these 7 factors explained almost 88% of what was going on in these patients. We need to be aware of the patterns that we can identify and alter.

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