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J Dent Educ. 2001 Oct;65(10):1038-45.

Inherited risks for susceptibility to dental caries.

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Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, University of Southern California School of Dentistry, Los Angeles 90033, USA.


Dental caries incidence is affected by host factors that may be related to the structure of dental enamel, immunologic response to cariogenic bacteria, or the composition of saliva. Genetic variation of the host factors may contribute to increased risks for dental caries. This systematic review examined the literature to address the question, "Is the risk for dental decay related to patterns of genetic inheritance?" Numerous reports have described a potential genetic contribution to the risk for dental caries. Studies on twins have provided strong evidence for the role of inheritance. Establishing a basis for a genetic contribution to dental caries will provide a foundation for future studies utilizing the human genome sequence to improve understanding of the disease process. Inherited disorders of tooth development with altered enamel structure increase the incidence of dental caries. Specific genetic linkage has not been determined for all of the syndromes of altered tooth development. Consequently, genetic screens of large populations for genes or mutations associated with increased caries susceptibility have not been done. Altered immune response to the cariogenic bacteria may also increase the incidence of caries. Association between specific patterns of HLA genetic inheritance and dental caries risk is weak and does not provide a predictable basis for predicting future decay rates. The evidence supporting an inherited susceptibility to dental caries is limited. Genetic linkage approaches on well-characterized populations with clearly defined dental caries incidence will be required to further analyze the relationship between inheritance and dental caries.

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