Several genes affect baby's first teeth

  • Deborah Condon

Several genes affect the development of teeth in the first year of life, the results of a new study indicate.

According to the findings, the teeth of babies with certain genetic variants tend to appear later and overall, these children have a lower number of teeth by the age of one. Furthermore, children whose teeth develop later are more likely to need orthodontic treatment.

UK researchers scanned the entire genetic code of 6,000 people living in Finland and the UK. They identified five genes associated with both the first tooth eruption and the number of teeth at the age of one. They also found that one of the identified genes was associated with a 35% increased risk of requiring orthodontic treatment by the age of 30.

The team emphasised that tooth development is not an isolated event. Teeth and several other organs have common growth and developmental pathways in early life. Some of the genes identified have been linked in previous studies with the development of the skull, jaws, ears, fingers, toes and heart.

The researchers noted that abnormal tooth development may lead to dental problems that demand challenging and costly orthodontic treatment. The discovery of genes influencing tooth growth may therefore lead to innovations in the early treatment and prevention of congenital dental problems.

“The discoveries of genetic and environmental determinants of human development will help us to understand the development of many disorders which appear later in life. We hope also that these discoveries will increase knowledge about why foetal growth seems to be such an important factor in the development of many chronic diseases," commented lead researcher, Prof Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin of Imperial College London.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, PloS Genetics.


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