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Bad Teeth May Not Be in the Genes

Genes may take a seat behind environmental factors in kids' propensities to develop cavities, Reuters reports.

As part of the longitudinal Peri/postnatal Epigenetic Twins Study, a University of Melbourne-led team of researchers examined the prevalence of dental caries among monozygotic and dizygotic twins at six years of age. As they report in the journal Pediatrics, they found no difference in concordance of the number of cavities among their 71 monozygotic twins, as compared to their 101 dizygotic twin pairs. Instead, they found that environmental factors such as a lack of water fluoridation in the region or maternal obesity were more likely to influence cavity risk.

"Therefore, risk factors seem to be mostly environmental and are potentially modifiable," Melbourne's Mihiri Silva, the first author of the study, tells Reuters. "This might debunk the idea that individuals are genetically destined to have poor teeth and should drive us to find ways of addressing the risk factors that we know are important for dental health."