Independent variable biology is the discipline of understanding the mechanisms that determine how cells divide and function.
Its practitioners are looking for clues about how to increase the odds of survival for the cells.
The latest research, led by Dr Daniel J. Bouchard at the University of Edinburgh, suggests that there may be a biological reason for the higher mortality of individuals with more complex dental carious.
Dr Bouchards team investigated how caries rates varied by the age of a patient.
They found that people with more advanced caries were more likely not to survive to a certain age.
“We are not saying that those people have a better chance of surviving than people with less advanced dental cariogenesis,” Dr Boutard said.
“But there is a relationship between caries and age, so it is a factor that may not have been seen before.”
“It’s the best information we have to date.”
Dr Bontard and his colleagues studied 576 patients aged between 65 and 74 years who had been admitted to the Scottish General Hospital in Edinburgh since 2013.
The patients were asked to report how many teeth they had, and how many had caries.
The researchers also asked how often they had visited a dentist, and their dental health.
A number of other factors were included in the study, including age, whether they had ever been in hospital or whether they were currently taking drugs to treat dental caria.
They also looked at dental health and diet, and looked at the level of caries in the teeth of the patients.
As the researchers explained: “Our data suggest that individuals with dental cario-related complications may have a greater than chance of survival, although this is not a causal relationship between dental cariosis and the probability of survival.”
Dr Bontards research suggests that people who have more complex cariogenic disorders might be more at risk of developing caries over the long term, and may also have more problems when it comes to eating, smoking and drinking.
Dr Jethro Bonton, a research fellow at the Edinburgh University, said: “These results are exciting because they show that caries is a very complex disease that is more closely linked to underlying metabolic, genetic and environmental factors.”
This could be important in understanding the role of the microbiota in preventing and treating dental cariology.
“A key issue in understanding cariologic disorders is understanding the mechanism by which dental carius cells divide.
Dr Jethros Bontons team also discovered that the level at which cariosis occurs may also be linked to other risk factors.
Dental caria occurs when dental tissue breaks down and begins to degrade.
This breakdown can lead to the development of dental carial tissue, which in turn can cause the tooth to decay.
For the new study, Dr Jeter Bontone, a researcher from the University’s School of Dentistry, also examined the relationship between the age at which dental disease occurred and the risk of carioses.
Drs Bontones team found that the more age an individual had, the more likely they were to develop dental cariae.
This suggests that age may also play a role in the development and progression of dental disease.
Although the study was small, it has the potential to help scientists to develop a better understanding of cariology, and to develop new treatments for dental carias.
In addition, the researchers said their results could lead to new treatments to prevent dental carics in people.
Follow Stephanie Nebehay on Twitter: @stephnebehay