Genetic testing of oral bacteria now shows that the type of bacteria in your mouth is closely related to your ethnicity. It is hoped that the new tests may lead to a better understanding of how risk of cavities and gum disease is affected by ethnicity and better

preventative dentistry.

“Deep Sequencing” of Diverse Population

Researchers at Ohio State University published a study in PLOS One showing that for some people the genetic makeup of their oral bacteria was closely tied to their ethnicity. They identified nearly 400 different species of oral bacteria and looked at how these bacteria were distributed in the mouths of 100 study participants. The study participants belonged to four different ethnic groups: African-American, Caucasians, Chinese, and Latinos.

The bacteria population varied greatly between these groups. Only 2% of bacterial species were found in all individuals, and only 8% were found in 90% or more of individuals. However, even these bacteria were found in varying concentrations depending on ethnic group.

Researchers tried to use the bacterial signatures as an ethnic identifier and found that a machine could identify the ethnic group from which a bacteria sample came 62% of the time. It was able to identify African-American samples 100% of the time, but only identified Caucasian samples 50% of the time. This was when samples were taken from gum pockets. Identification was less accurate when samples were taken from the entire mouth.

Better Prevention Based on Your Bacteria

Although this work is preliminary, researchers hope that the outcome of this study will lead to better prevention of gum disease, cavities, and other oral health problems based on a better understanding of which bacteria are associated with increased risk for which individuals.

At Rice Dentistry, we are already beginning to apply similar technology in our gum disease treatment. We use genetic testing of your oral bacteria to understand which bacteria you have that may contribute to your periodontal and cavities risk so we can give you appropriate treatment.

To learn more about how advanced genetic testing can help improve your oral health, please contact Rice Dentistry in Irvine, California today.