Fingerprint

Oral Bacteria Make up a Reliable 'Ethnic Fingerprint' in Your Mouth

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A recent report says that the bacteria in our mouth – particularly those nestled under the gums are just as powerful as fingerprint when it comes to identifying a person’s ethnicity.

Senior research author and associate professor of periodontology at The Ohio State University, Purnima Kumar said, “This is the first time it has been shown that ethnicity is a huge component in determining what you carry in your mouth. We know that our food and oral hygiene habits determine what bacteria can survive and thrive in our mouths, which is why your dentist stresses brushing and flossing. Can your genetic makeup play a similar role? The answer seems to be yes, it can.”

One dental treatment is not always appropriate for all, strengthening the need for a more personalized approach to oral care.

The findings of this research could be valuable in explaining why people in some ethnic groups, especially African Americans and Latinos, are more susceptible than others to develop gum disease. This also confirms that one dental treatment is not always appropriate for all, strengthening the need for a more personalized approach to oral care.

"The most important point of this paper is discovering that ethnicity-specific oral microbial communities may predispose individuals to future disease," Kumar said. Though it's too soon to change dental practice based on this work, she said the findings show that "there is huge potential to develop chair-side tools to determine a patient's susceptibility to disease."

This research is published in the journal PLOS ONE.