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Public health genetics and dental caries: a summary of current research and a proposed public health intervention

Deeley, Kathleen (2013) Public health genetics and dental caries: a summary of current research and a proposed public health intervention. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Dental caries is the most common oral disease worldwide. Caries is primarily caused by bacteria that colonize the mouth and breaks down sugars to produce an acid that de-mineralizes the surface of teeth. The resulting hole is called a carious lesion, and is the symptom used to diagnose this disease. Untreated caries provides an opportunity for other bacteria to infect the inner structure of the tooth, and potentially, get into the bloodstream. Caries is a multi-factorial disease that is affected by many host and environmental factors such as: diet, access to dental care, saliva composition, immune response, air quality, availability of fluoride, and genes. Caries can be an expensive disease to treat. Since many people in the United States of America do not have dental insurance and public resources in this area are scares, most of this cost comes directly from the consumer. The effects of untreated caries, particularly in children, can be severe. Tooth pain can lead to reduced food intake and loss of sleep. This can lead to poor nutrition and poor performance in school, stunting the child’s physical and mental development. Teeth extracted due to caries can impair a child’s ability to speak, as well as impact their sense of self-worth. A focus on preventing caries will not only prevent these extreme outcomes, it will also help prevent more serious chronic conditions. Poor diet and malnutrition contribute to severe caries as well as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Preventing caries is of public health importance because it can have severe short and long term outcomes, it is a financial burden on healthcare consumers, and it is easily preventable. Genetic testing can play a role in preventing caries. If people know they have a higher susceptibility to caries they can try to mitigate their increased susceptibility by changing their diet or brushing more. If they know that they do not have a higher susceptibility, they may focus on other areas of their health.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Deeley, Kathleenkbd1@pitt.eduKBD1
Date: 29 September 2013
Date Type: Submission
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Human Genetics
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 12 May 2015 14:46
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2021 10:55


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