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Can Your Dentist Tell Your Ethnic Background?



For many of us, our ethnicity is not easily seen from outward appearances. As generations go by, the different ethnic backgrounds have been mixed to produce a large variety of people in the world. Recent research has shown that the diverse oral bacteria in our mouths is actually as powerful as a fingerprint. It turns out the bacteria deep within our gums can give clues to our unique ethnic origins.

Ethnicity Study And Oral Bacteria

Research completed at the Ohio State University periodontology department studied the oral bacteria found in different ethnic groups . The researchers identified about 400 species of oral bacteria in the mouths of 100 subjects. The study consisted of 4 ethnic groups: white, non-Hispanic blacks, Chinese, and Latinos.

More than 60 percent of oral bacteria in the human mouth have never been classified, named or studied. The reason being, that  many oral bacteria will not grow in a laboratory culture dish. To get around this problem, the researchers found a different way to identify the different oral bacteria. The solution was to identify different species by utilizing DNA sequencing.

The study found that only a small percentage ( 2%) of the oral bacteria were found in every one of the research subjects. Bacteria were found in different concentrations based upon the subjects ethnicity. The researchers found that each ethnic group was represented by their own unique signature of oral bacteria.

Another research of ethnicity and oral bacteria found that African Americans and Latinos are more susceptible to periodontal disease.

What Does This Mean?

-Some oral bacteria leave us highly susceptible to tooth decay, some to periodontal disease. Knowing who is more prone to which specific oral diseases can make it easier to monitor and prevent.

-Knowing which bacteria you have allows for specific antibiotic regimens to be customized to target your particular bad oral bacteria, and allows you to decrease your odds of succumbing to oral disease.

-Understanding the genetic basis of bacteria allows researchers to study particularly harmful bacteria, and find new ways to battle it.

-Knowledge of your ethnic background may help you understand why you are genetically prone to certain bacteria related diseases and what you can do to improve your overall oral health.

What Your Dentist Can Do For You

-Test your particular oral bacteria via saliva samples sent to MyPerioPath.

-Help you understand your risk factors.

-Custom design an antibiotic regimen to substantially reduce the dangerous oral bacteria present in your mouth.

-Oral hygiene regimen and instruction.

-Monitoring the mouth for disease progression.

 Effects Of Oral Bacteria On Dental Health

Bacteria are present throughout our body. Some bacteria are sticky and form biofilm. A thin grouping of oral bacteria, plaque biofilm, lives on gum tissue and teeth. Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth. The oral bacteria in the biofilm release acids that attack the enamel of our teeth, and break down tissue attachments in the gums. The plaque bacteria can cause tooth decay and periodontal disease. Knowing which bacteria you have present in your oral environment allows you to know what you are up against.

Conclusions From Research Study

Understanding the genetic basis to bacteria not only helps scientists study them and find cures, but can help you fight oral disease.  Being aware of your particular harmful bacteria and potential issues they may cause, could and should lead to a more personalized approach to dental and medical care.

© 2014 – 2019, Marielaina Perrone DDS. All rights reserved. Henderson Cosmetic Dentist

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