Association between hair disorders and dental problems determined in study

You might not be losing your hair over dental problems, but could it be that you're losing your teeth over hair problems?

According to a study released this spring, certain hair disorders may put people closer to risk for dental health challenges.

Researcher Olivier Duverger, Ph.D., and co-authors of the study found that epithelial hair keratins are also crucial components of tooth enamel and that mutations in these keratins increase the risk for dental defects and caries. Dr. Duverger is a researcher at the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland. He presented these findings in March at the 93rd General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research in Boston.

In the study, the researchers assessed the presence and function of specific hair keratins that are also part of fully mineralized enamel in teeth. They used genetic and intraoral examination data from 386 children and 706 adults, testing the association between polymorphism in hair keratin – associated with hair disorders – with susceptibility to dental caries – or cavities. They found that hair keratin mutations led to altered enamel structure and reduced enamel hardness.

On its consumer website MouthHealthy.org, the American Dental Association describes cavities, or tooth decay, as "the destruction of your tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of your teeth." Visit MouthHealthy.org for more information about cavities and other dental health topics.

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