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Title: The use of genetic data in dental epidemiology to explore the causes and consequences of caries and periodontitis
Author: Haworth, Simon
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2019
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The major dental diseases are caries and periodontitis. These two common conditions are important public health problems and have complex, multifactorial aetiology. Study designs which use genetic data can provide evidence about the molecular and biological basis of disease and also help prioritize modifiable risk factors which have causal relevance for disease. To date these approaches have had limited success in dental epidemiology, possibly due to the lack of large studies with genetic data and dental phenotypes. Through a theoretical review and a pair of applied illustrations, I argue that questionnairederived and index-linked dental data provide a valuable resource for the application of modern epidemiological methods. Using these data for genetic association discovery, the main findings are novel risk loci for caries in both adult and paediatric populations, and evidence suggesting that the genetic risk factors for caries and periodontitis are partially overlapping with a range of other health traits. These newly discovered risk loci can act as proxies for variation in dental disease experience using current methods for causal effect estimation. I test the reciprocal hypotheses that dental diseases have downstream effects on cardio-metabolic traits, and that metabolic traits influence risk of dental diseases, finding some evidence supporting existing beliefs that dental diseases may have undesirable downstream effects on health. Together, the results suggest that studies which use genetic data will have an important role in the future of dental epidemiology and can help improve understanding of both the molecular and broader health and social aetiology of caries and periodontitis. Unlocking the full potential of these methods will require the community to support still-larger studies and adopt modern working practices in dental epidemiology.
Supervisor: Timpson, Nicholas ; Thomas, Steve ; West, Nicola Sponsor: Wellcome Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available