Genetic Influences on Dental Caries


Dental caries is the most common bacteria‐mediated disease in the world despite being highly preventable. It is traditionally described as the interplay among a susceptible host, microbiota and diet. While studies of environmental risk factors have dominated the research effort on cariology, the past decade has demonstrated a growing interest in the factors that are genetically controlled that directly affect the host. The dental enamel, saliva and immune responses and individual behaviours are such factors. Genes involved in dental enamel development have been in the centre of most recent investigations; however, genes related to immune responses and saliva formation appear to be growing in interest. Genetics of behaviour is still an area completely unexplored in the cariology field, with the exception of the known variants that influence individual taste preferences. New insight may come for exploring the genes that are involved in the decision‐making process.

Key Concepts

  • Dental caries is a bacteria‐mediated disease that is greatly influenced by factors of the host.
  • Host factors influencing dental caries are genetically influenced.
  • Our limited understanding of the genetic influences of the host has impaired our ability for preventing dental caries at the population level.

Keywords: dental caries; oral microbiome; oral health; genetics; complex inheritance; Mendelian inheritance; dental enamel; amelogenesis imperfecta; saliva

Figure 1. Caries lesion progression over time.
Figure 2. Immunohistochemical analysis showing Esrrb expression in secretory stage ameloblasts. Immunohistochemistry of demineralised, paraffin sections of mouse mandibular molar at 4 days postnatal (20X).
Figure 3. Host factors influencing the pathogenesis of dental caries.


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Further Reading

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Thylstrup A and Fejerskov O (eds) (1994) Textbook of Clinical Cardiology, 2nd edn. Copenhagen, Denmark: Munksgaard International Publishers. ISBN10 8716109163; ISBN13 9788716109163.

Young D, Wolff M and Fontana M (2010) Current Concepts in Cariology, an Issue of Dental Clinics. Saunders. ISBN: 978‐1‐4377‐2440‐0.

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Vieira, Alexandre R(Jan 2016) Genetic Influences on Dental Caries. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0024258]