The University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry is breaking new ground in an attempt to use DNA to help patients detect and predict their risk of gum disease. The study will take place over 12 months and collect genetic data on 4,000 patients.
DNA testing has been controversial, as current tests can detect the risk of diabetes and heart disease, raising patient fears of insurance company discrimination. Patients in the US are protected by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, effectively prohibiting discrimination in health insurance and employment on the basis of genetic information.
Predicting the risk for gum disease can go far beyond simply improving oral health. With the systemic link between inflammation in the mouth and disease in other parts of the body, like heart disease, the ability to help patients detect their future risk of gum disease could have huge implications for overall health.