Value of vigilant teeth brushing may be muted by genetic factors

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Why do some thorough tooth-brushers develop tooth decay while other people who take a more relaxed attitude to dental hygiene don’t have any holes? Researchers from the University of Zurich have for the first time pinpointed a gene complex responsible for the formation of tooth enamel.

Two teams from the Centre of Dental Medicine and the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences used mice with varying mutations of the enamel proteins involved in the so-called Wnt signalling pathway.

“[W]e demonstrated that there is a direct link between mutations in the genetic blueprints for these proteins and the development of tooth enamel defects,” said Pierfrancesco Pagella, one of the study’s two first authors.

“If the signal transmission [in the Wnt signalling pathway] isn’t working properly, the structure of the tooth enamel can change,” said co-first author Claudio Cantù..

The hardness and composition of the tooth enamel can affect the progression of [tooth decay].

“We revealed that tooth decay isn’t just linked to bacteria, but also the tooth’s resistance,” added Thimios Mitsiadis, professor of oral biology at the Center of Dental Medicine.

[The study can be found here.]

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