Genetic Breakthrough “Sees The Future” For Children’s Teeth

The study showed that the teeth of babies with particular genetic variants appear later and that these children have a lower number of teeth by age one.

Furthermore, the research found that those children whose teeth develop later are more likely to need orthodontic treatment.

In addition to the new findings, the UK’s leading oral health educator, the British Dental Health Foundation maintains that a good oral health programme remains vital to the development of children’s teeth.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter added that dummy and thumb sucking was partly the cause of future orthodontic treatment.

He said: “These can both eventually cause problems with how the teeth grow and develop and may result in treatment with a brace when the child gets older. If your baby needs a dummy, there are ‘orthodontic’ soothers or dummies that reduce the risk of development problems in the future.

“It is recommended that children should go to the dentist with their parents as soon as possible. You should then take them regularly, as often as your dentist recommends.

This will let them get used to the noises, smells and surroundings and prepare them for future visits. The earlier these visits begin, the more relaxed the children will be.”

The National Dental Helpline (0845 063 1188) receives thousands of calls every year for advice on orthodontic treatment and general oral health issues, alongside enquiries to the website.

The study, which was carried out by members of Imperial College London, the University of Bristol and the University of Oulu in Finland, scanned the entire genetic code of 6,000 individuals.

The participants were tracked from the mother’s early pregnancy right up until adulthood.

Dr Carter added: “First or ‘baby’ teeth usually develop before your child is born and will start to come through at around 6 months. All 20 baby teeth should be through by the age of 2, with the first permanent ‘adult’ molars (back teeth) appearing at about 6 years of age, behind the baby teeth and before the first teeth start to fall out at about 6 to 7.

“However, all children are different and develop at different rates.”
Researchers identified five genes associated with both the first tooth eruption and the number of teeth aged one. It also revealed that 35% of participants were more likely to require orthodontic treatment by the age of 30 years old.

Abnormal tooth development may lead to dental problems that demand challenging and costly orthodontic treatment.

The discovery of genes influencing tooth growth may lead to innovations in the early treatment and prevention of congenital dental and occlusion problems.


Editors Notes

For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on 01788 539792 or by emailing [email protected]

Members of the public can contact the Dental Helpline for free and impartial expert advice on 0845 063 1188, Monday to Friday, or by emailing [email protected]

The Foundation’s website can be found at

A series of free ‘Tell Me About…’ leaflets, covering topics such as orthodontic treatment, living with my brace, children’s teeth, gum disease and dental decay, are also available.

The British Dental Health Foundation is an independent charity dedicated to improving the public’s oral health practice. It raises awareness of key issues such as mouth cancer through its annual Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign, and in alliance with its global arm, the International Dental Health Foundation, it runs the educational National Smile Month campaign. The Foundation provides free, impartial dental advice to inform and influence the public, the profession and the Government.

Full research can be found on PLoS Genetics open–access journal on