Oral Bacteria Link To Genes?

Is it Nature or Nurture That Causes Cavities?

A new study, out of La Jolla, California, led by the J. Craig Venter Institute, that has been published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, investigated oral microbiomes present in childhood twins. Microbiomes refer to oral microbes plus their genetic material. They said that twins are more likely to have a very similar upbringing, they are ideal subjects for studying the “nature versus nurture” question with regards to oral health. A large cohort of twins, both identical and non-identical, were studied to determine the influence of host genotype and the early shared environment in shaping the oral microbiome profile.

While there has been growing evidence of links between the oral microbiome and other illnesses, including oral cancer and cardiovascular disease, there are also studies that say there are links between the gut microbiome and general health. While the genetic makeup of the host can be linked to the presence of the microbes in the gut, there have been hardly any link seen between oral microbiome and host genetic background.

In the study, the oral microbiomes of 485 pairs of twins aged between 5 and 11 years were investigated, 205 were identical twins and 280 were fraternal, and there was also one set of triplets. True enough, and as expected, oral microbiomes of identical twins were more similar to each other (versus those of non-identical twins), suggesting that the host genetic background influences the types of bacteria present in the mouth. Also discovered, that the types of bacteria most closely linked to host genetic background were not ones that play a role in tooth decay.

Another finding was that comparing children aged five with those of age 11, the bacteria most closely linked to host genetic background tend to decrease in abundance as the children age. Lastly, the twins whose diet included a lot of added sugar had fewer of the types of bacteria linked to lower rates of tooth decay and more of the types that are linked to higher rates of tooth decay.

The study does not end here as the researchers will continue to follow-up the twins, look at the changing patterns in their oral microbiomes, and compare the health of identical and non-identical twins with functional differences in their oral microbiomes.

Watching Your Sugar More

Your Bellevue dentist says that it is the environment or the nurturing that plays a huge role in cavity development and tooth decay. The higher and more frequent is sugar intake, the higher are the rates of tooth decay.