A Polygenic Score Predicts Caries Experience in Elderly Swedish Adults

Simon J Haworth*, Elias H Fries, Anders Esberg, John R Shaffer, Kimon Divaris, Mary L Marazita, Ingegerd Johansson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Caries is a partially heritable disease, raising the possibility that a polygenic score (PS, a summary of an individual’s genetic propensity for disease) might be a useful tool for risk assessment. To date, PS for some diseases have shown clinical utility, although no PS for caries has been evaluated. The objective of the study was to test whether a PS for caries is associated with disease experience or increment in a cohort of Swedish adults. A genomewide PS for caries was trained using the results of a published genome-wide association metaanalysis, and constructed in an independent cohort of 15,460 Swedish adults. Electronic dental records from the Swedish Quality Registry for Caries and Periodontitis (SKaPa) were used to compute the decayed, missing, and filled tooth surfaces (DMFS) index and the number of remaining teeth. The performance of the PS was evaluated by testing the association between the PS and DMFS at a single dental examination, and between the PS and the rate of change in DMFS. Participants in the highest and lowest deciles of PS had mean DMFS of 63.5 and 46.3, respectively. A regression analysis confirmed this association where a 1 standard deviation increase in PS was associated with approximately 4 units higher DMFS (p<2x10-16). Participants with the highest decile of PS also had greater change in DMFS during follow-up. Results were robust to sensitivity analysis which adjusted for age, age squared, sex, and the first 20 genetic principal components. Mediation analysis suggested that tooth loss was a strong mediating factor in the association between PS and DMFS, but also supported a direct genetic effect on caries. In this cohort, there are clinically meaningful differences in DMFS between participants with high and low PS for caries. The results highlight the potential role of genomic data in improving caries risk assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-508
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number5
Early online date7 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research and American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research 2024.


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