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Genes Behind Tooth Development Discovered

Last Updated: February 26, 2010.

Scientists say they affect appearance of first one, number of teeth in first year.

FRIDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Genes that influence tooth development in the first year of life have been identified by British and Finnish researchers.

They analyzed the genetic code of 6,000 people in Finland and Britain who took part in studies that tracked them from their mother's early pregnancy until adulthood. The scientists pinpointed five genes associated with the time of the appearance of the first tooth and the number of teeth by age 1. In addition, one of the genes was associated with a 35 percent increased risk of requiring orthodontic treatment by age 30.

Identification of genes that play a role in tooth development and growth may lead to innovations in the early treatment and prevention of dental problems, the researchers said.

They also noted that teeth and other organs have common growth and development pathways during early development. Some of the genes identified in this study have previously been found to be associated with the development of the skull, jaws, ears, fingers, toes and heart.

"The discoveries of genetic and environmental determinants of human development will help us to understand the development of many disorders which appear later in life. We hope also that these discoveries will increase knowledge about why fetal growth seems to be such an important factor in the development of many chronic diseases," study leader Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said in a news release.

The study appears in the Feb. 26 issue of the journal PLoS Genetics.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about mouth and teeth development.

SOURCE: Public Library of Science, news release, Feb. 25, 2010