Background. Oral diseases are amongst the costliest in Australia. Oral Health expenditure is the sixth highest health cost and accounts for 7% of total allocated health expenditure ($3.4 billion). Decreased productivity, days lost at work and school increase the community burden. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011, ~49% of Australian children aged 6 had caries experience in their deciduous teeth and this is rising. The aetiology of dental caries involves a complex interplay of individual, behavioural, social, economic, political and environmental conditions, and there is renewed interest in genetic predisposition. The ongoing Griffith University Birth Cohort Study provides a valuable opportunity to investigate genetic and acquired risk factors by examition of enrolled children and their parents. Objectives. To quantify risk factors for dental caries in a population of Queensland children: social; environmental; behavioural; physiological and inherited. Methods. The Oral Health Sub-study began in November 2012 by examining mothers and their 6 year old children, these being the first (2006) birth cohort: examition of subsequent years is progressing. Detailed questionire data of families is available and new primary data on knowledge, attitudes and practices towards oral health are gathered. Height, waist circumference and stride length of mother and child are measured. They are weighed with an electronic Bio-Impedance balance, thereby recording body fat, body water and body mass index. Caries is scored using the Intertiol Caries Detection and Scoring system (ICDAS II, 2007). Saliva is collected for physiological measures and D extracted for genetic studies. A pilot of the latter concentrates on potential epigenetic markers of risk based on methylation sequencing on the Roche SeqCap Capture platform. Results. Results of the first 52 mother/child dyads shows significant correlations between the child's caries experience and the mother's level of salivary Mutans Streptocci (p=0.01), mothers' caries experience (p=0.01) and mothers' BMI (p=0.05). Conclusion. The correlations found so far between materl and child oral health indicators and disease experience give confidence in the protocol, justifying the search for genetic influences.

Presented at Conferences

  • IADR - Australian/New Zealand Division. (2014)