GENETIC inheritance is probably the most important determinant of dentition. Severe local or metabolic disturbances during tooth formation can upset predetermined development patterns, and cause pathological changes such as hypoplasia of enamel, or alteration in eruption pattern. Until lately, little had been done to determine whether more subtle alterations in tooth development could be produced by less traumatic alterations in the environment, and if so, whether such changes were related to dental disease.
In this paper the relation of genetics to dentition, the recent attempts to vary developmental environment through nutrition, and the effect of these variations on developing teeth in terms of tooth morphology and caries susceptibility will be reviewed. The relation of this experimental work to human disease also will be discussed.
Relation of Genetics to Dentition
Genetic inheritance determines many of our dental characteristics, including such broad aspects as general arrangement of teeth in the arch