Want to Know Your Risk of Fillings? Take a Saliva Test
Byline: JULIE WHELDON
DENTISTS could soon be able to predict your risk of needing fillings by testing your saliva.
Researchers have discovered that there are many different combinations of sugars in saliva, and certain groupings make teeth more prone to decay.
Professor Paul Denny of the University of Southern California said the test could show whether someone is likely to get cavities in the molars, premolars or throughout the mouth.
He predicted that one day dentists may use the The Caries Assessment and Risk Evaluation (CARE) test on children to decide whether to use tooth sealants to prevent cavities forming.
Professor Denny told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington that by analysing saliva he can predict a child's future incidence of cavities with more than 98 per cent accuracy.
'The test is sensitive enough to predict the exact number of cavities a child will develop as he or she grows,' he said.
'The test can also predict the types of teeth affected.' The test detects saliva proteins containing sugars which bind to bacteria.
There are more than 50 varieties of these sugars, which are present in different combinations in individuals.
Professor Denny said: 'The effect of these sugar chains on the tooth's ability to resist disease is analagous to the effect of "good" and "bad" cholesterol on blood vessels.
'Good sugar chains tend to repel the bacteria that cause cavities while bad sugar chains allow the bacteria to bond to a tooth and start the decay process. …