Dental caries susceptibility linked to… your hair?

October 29, 2014
Laura Dorr
Issue 10

While oral hygiene habits and diet influence the risk of tooth decay, genetics are also at play in regards to susceptibility for dental caries development … genetics that can also determine hair disorders. 

While oral hygiene habits and diet influence the risk of tooth decay, genetics are also at play in regards to susceptibility for dental caries development … genetics that can also determine hair disorders. 

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Strong enamel is obviously crucial to dental health, as it protects teeth from caries and decay, so those with structural abnormalities in their enamel can be at an increased risk for such dental issues.  A new National Institute of Health study has found not only that enamel structure can influence an individual’s predisposition to caries, but also that keratin can affect enamel structure.

Using genetic and intraoral examination statistics from 1,092 study participants, researchers found that epithelial hair keratins – proteins associated with strong hair that play a large role in maintaining the strength and integrity of the sheaths that support hair shafts – are essential organic components of enamel. As part of tooth enamel’s protein composition, keratin can influence tooth enamel structure and integrity.

Additionally, the study found that individuals that had keratin mutations associated with hair disorders also had abnormal enamel structure that resulted in tooth weakness, thus increasing the risk of dental caries.

The full study (“Hair keratin mutations in tooth enamel increase dental decay risk,”) was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and can be found online here

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