A visit to the dentist could one day require a detailed look at how genes in a patient's body are being switched on or off, as well as examining their pearly whites, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide.
In a new paper published in the Australian Dental Journal, researchers from the University of Adelaide's School of Dentistry have written about the current and future use of the field of epigenetics as it relates to oral health.
Speaking on Dentist's Day (Thursday 6 March), co-author Associate Professor Toby Hughes says epigenetics has much to offer in the future treatment and prevention of dental disease.
"Our genetic code, or DNA, is like an orchestra - it contains all of the elements we need to function - but the epigenetic code is essentially the conductor, telling which instruments to play or stay silent, or how to respond at any given moment," Associate Professor Hughes says.
"This is important because, in the case of oral health, epigenetic factors may help to orchestrate healthy and unhealthy states in our mouths. They respond to the current local environment, such as the type and level of our oral microbes, regulating which of our genes are active. This means we could use them to determine an individual's state of health, or even influence how their genes behave. We can't change the underlying genetic code, but we may be able to change when genes are switched on and off," he says.
Associate Professor Hughes is part of a team of researchers at the University of Adelaide that has been studying the underlying genetic and environmental influences on dental development and oral health.
He says that since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2007, epigenetics has had an increasing role in biological and medical research.
"Dentistry can also greatly benefit from new research in this area," he says. "It could open up a range of opportunities for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
"We know that our genome plays a key role in our dental development, and in a range of oral diseases; we know that the oral microbiota also play a key role in the state of our oral health; we now have the potential to develop an epigenetic profile of a patient, and use all three of these factors to provide a more personalized level of care.
"Other potential oral health targets for the study of epigenetics include the inflammation and immune responses that lead to periodontitis, which can cause tooth loss; and the development and progression of oral cancers.
"What's most exciting is the possibility of screening for many of these potential oral health problems from an early age so that we can prevent them or reduce their impact."
The full paper can be found at the Australian Dental Journal's website.
Associate Professor Toby Hughes
School of Dentistry
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 3295
Toby Hughes | EurekAlert!
Molecular trigger for Cerebral Cavernous Malformation identified
26.11.2015 | EMBO - excellence in life sciences
Peering into cell structures where neurodiseases emerge
26.11.2015 | University of Delaware
Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.
Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...
Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.
In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...
In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.
Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...
Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...
25.11.2015 | Event News
17.11.2015 | Event News
21.10.2015 | Event News
26.11.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
26.11.2015 | Materials Sciences
26.11.2015 | Earth Sciences