Article Title

Genetic and environmental influences on dentofacial structures and oral health: Studies of Australian twins and their families


Our studies of the teeth and faces of Australian twins commenced at the School of Dentistry, The University of Adelaide in the early 1980s. There are now over 900 pairs of twins enrolled in our continuing investigations, together with 1200 relatives. There are 3 main cohorts of participants. The first cohort comprises around 300 pairs of teenage twins for whom various records have been collected, including dental casts, facial photographs, finger and palm prints and information on laterality, including handedness. The second cohort comprises around 300 pairs of twins who have been examined at 3 stages of dental development from approximately 4 years of age to about 14 years: at primary, mixed, and permanent dentition (excluding 3rd molars) stages. The most recent study of tooth emergence and oral health, for which we are currently recruiting twins, will provide a third cohort of around 500 twin pairs aged from around birth to 3 to 4 years of age. Our broad aim in these studies has been to improve our understanding of how genetic and environmental factors contribute to variation in dental and facial features, and to oral health. We have also used our data to investigate aspects of the determination of laterality, particularly the fascinating phenomenon of mirror imaging. We plan to maximize the use of the longitudinal data and DNA we have collected, and continue to collect, by performing genome-wide scans for putative genetic linkage peaks for a range of dental features, and then to test for association between a series of likely candidate genes and our phenotypes.



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