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Research examines whether genetic traits are the cause of periodontitis

Research examines whether genetic traits cause periodontitis. The oral #microbiota of participants with #periodontitis were different & more diverse than healthy controls. One factor wasn’t associated with gum disease at all: host genetic polymorphism.


Nearly 10 percent of the world’s population suffer from severe gum disease, or periodontitis, according to the World Health Organization. Could genetic variations be to blame? A recently published study set out to determine whether a person’s genes or the unique makeup of their mouth microbiome might predispose some to severe gum disease.

A number of risk factors have been associated with gum disease, from stress and smoking to diabetes and obesity. To tease out the possible effect of a person’s oral microbiome and their genes, the researchers combed through oral health data collected from over 14,000 Japanese adults between 2013 and 2017. Each participant had been given an oral exam, filled out a questionnaire and had a saliva sample analyzed for genetic polymorphisms — common variations in individuals’ DNA.

The researchers then selected 22 participants with no other risk factors for gum disease and separated them into a group with periodontitis and a control group with good oral health. When they analyzed both groups’ mouth microbiomes, they found some big differences.

The microbes inside the mouths of participants with periodontitis were different, and more diverse, than the controls. Unlike the comparison group, people with gum disease also had bacteria from the Lactobacillaceae and Desulfobulbaceae families in their mouths. Porphyromonas gingivalis, an oral pathogen that’s most commonly associated with chronic periodontitis, was spotted in the mouths of only those with gum disease.

One factor wasn’t associated with gum disease at all: genetic polymorphism.


The makeup of a person’s mouth bacteria is more likely to predispose someone to gum disease than their DNA, the researchers conclude.

In a way, that’s good news: People cannot change their genetic makeup, but they can influence their mouth microbiome through oral hygiene.

“Clinicians should pay attention to microbiome composition to prevent periodontitis,” the researchers write. Although the associations between P. gingivalis and gum disease are already well known, the researchers say there needs to be more investigation into how the Lactobacillaceae and Desulfobulbaceae families might be associated with oral health. As with any small study, more research will be needed to replicate the researchers’ conclusions in larger populations.

The research was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

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