Journal of Oral Research and Review

: 2021  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 6--11

Correlation between dermatoglyphic pattern and dental caries among dental students in a dental college in Mangalore

Pavitra Sampath1, Aneesh Shabu1, Manoj Varma2, Lavanya Varma1,  
1 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Srinivas Institute of Dental Sciences, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Prosthodontics, Srinivas Institute of Dental Sciences, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Pavitra Sampath
Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Srinivas Institute of Dental Sciences, Mangalore, Karnataka


Introduction: Dental caries is a multifactorial disease caused by a microbial infestation of the teeth. It has been found that some individuals have a genetic predilection for being affected by caries. The fingerprint patterns found in humans are unique and form during the 3rd week of gestation from the same site from which the development of teeth occurs. Thus, it can be theorized that if a person has a genetic predilection for caries, then it would be reflected in the fingerprint pattern too. Aims: To find a correlation between the incidence of caries and the fingerprint patterns and to find which classification has the highest incidence of caries. Methodology and Materials Used: A cross-sectional study was performed on 440 students aged between 18 and 26 years. Decayed, Missing, Filled Teeth (DMFT) method was performed for collecting the data regarding caries incidence, while the stamp pad method was used for getting the fingerprints. They were then classified, and statistical analysis was done with their respective DMFT scores. Results: Among all the patterns, the loop pattern was found among 312 students (70.1%) followed by whorl (92, 20.9%) and arc pattern (36, 8.2%) Conclusion: The results of the study indicate that there is a definite correlation between the number of loops pattern and the presence of dental caries. Hence, dermatoglyphics can be used as a screening method to provide adequate preventive treatment to individuals showing a higher caries risk as detected by the hand ridge patterns.

How to cite this article:
Sampath P, Shabu A, Varma M, Varma L. Correlation between dermatoglyphic pattern and dental caries among dental students in a dental college in Mangalore.J Oral Res Rev 2021;13:6-11

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Sampath P, Shabu A, Varma M, Varma L. Correlation between dermatoglyphic pattern and dental caries among dental students in a dental college in Mangalore. J Oral Res Rev [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Mar 6 ];13:6-11
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The study of the human hand can be observed in many cultures across the globe. It has been associated with many occult practices ranging from predicting the fortune to assessing the health status of a person. At present, the study of palmistry has moved far from the popular image of predicting mysterious incidence of the future to a more scientific application.[1]

The word “Dermatoglyphics” was coined by Cummins in 1926. Its origin can be traced back from two Greek words: “Derma” which implies skin while “Glyphics” which means pattern. Dental caries is the most prevalent disease in the field of dentistry. The etiology of dental caries is associated with different natural and hereditary elements. The level to which each factor contributes to the advancement of caries is variable and may be different on an individual basis.[2]

During the 3rd week of intrauterine life, epidermal ridges on the fingers, palms, toes, and soles begin to develop and it is completed by the 19th week of gestation. The epithelium of the primary palate, finger bud, and enamel is ectodermal and originates from the same site and at the same time of intrauterine life. Thus, genetic and environmental factors responsible for causing dental caries can also have some effect on the dermatoglyphic patterns.[2] Although the present evidence supports the notion that hereditary factors play an important role in the predilection for dental caries,[3] there is still ambiguity whether dermatoglyphics is a predictor of dental caries. Hence, the current study was conducted to examine if dermatoglyphics is a predictor for dental caries among dental students in Mangalore.

 Methodology and Materials Used

This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study conducted on a group of dental students in a dental college in Mangalore. The study was conducted from April to May.

Ethical clearance

Ethical clearance was obtained before the study from the ethical review board of the institute. Permissions were also obtained through informed written consent forms from students before recording the fingerprints.

Study design

Selection and description of the participants

A total of 500 students aged 18–26 years were selected using simple random sampling. All of the students were given clear instructions regarding the objective as well as the procedure of the study. Students with skin disorders or those having any developmental anomaly or any trauma to fingertips were excluded from the study. For the collection of data, a pro forma was used consisting of demographic details, a brief case history regarding sugar consumption and oral hygiene methods, fingerprints, and recording format of Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth (DMFT, 1987) index.

Biometric consent form

This consent form was prepared as part of a scientific research on the topic, “Correlation between dermatoglyphic pattern and dental caries among dental students in a dental college in Mangalore.” The consent form stated that clearly, the goal of the study was to find a statistical correlation between a person's fingerprint pattern and his/her genetic predilection toward dental caries. It also explicitly proclaimed that the fingerprints were required only once for classification regarding its pattern and would soon be discarded once the analysis was done.

Recording fingerprint

The materials used in the study include basic diagnostic instruments needed for recording the DMFT index and materials needed for recording handprints. The materials used are as follows:

Basic diagnostic instrument (blunt-ended right-angled probe [No. 17], shepherd crook probe [No. 23], and odontoscope)Gauze padsStamp padBond paperMagnifying glass (×2 power)Soap.

The fingerprints were collected by the stamp pad method. The subject's hands were cleaned with soap and water and then scrubbed thoroughly with an antiseptic solution and then allowed to dry. The right hand thumb was then pressed onto the stamp pad firmly for the ink to spread evenly, and then the subject was asked to press his/her fingerprint on to the bond paper. This was repeated two to three times until the second or third impression was found to be satisfactory and readable..[4] The same procedure was repeated for the left hand. Prints were dried and studied using a magnifying lens (×2). After taking the imprints from all the fingers, the ink was removed properly. The handprints taken were preserved with caution. A single-blinded examiner observed all the handprints.

Often, it was noted that the thumb did not provide proper prints, which could be due to its spatial orientation as compared to the rest of the fingers, so a separate impression of the thumb was taken.

DMFT indexes were recorded with the help of a blunt-ended right angle probe (No. 17), shepherd crook probe (No. 23), and odontoscope (mouth mirror) under natural diffuse light. The criteria for identification of caries are as follows:

The lesion is clinically visible and obviousThe explorer tip can penetrate deep into soft yielding materialThere is discoloration or loss of translucency typical of undermined or demineralized enamelThe explorer tip in a pit or fissure catches or resists removal after moderate-to-firm pressure on insertion and when there is softness at the base of the areaAll third molars are includedTemporary restorations are considered as “D”The initial lesions such as chalky or discolored rough spots and stained fissures are not considered as “D.” Caries is recorded when there is an unmistakable cavity, undermined enamel, or a softened wall or floorOnly teeth missing due to caries are included in its M-component.[15]

Fingerprint classification

Many classifications have been proposed by several investigators to classify these patterns. Over the years, various classifications were proposed by a number of researchers and investigators to classify fingerprint patterns. The most frequently used classification today was proposed by Sir Francis Galton (1892), who classified fingertip pattern configurations on the distal phalanges into three broad groups.[5]


It is regarded as the simplest type of fingerprint that is formed by ridges entering from one side and exiting from the other with a distally bowed sweep. These ridges tend to rise at the center of the pattern in a wave-like pattern. Such arches are known as plain arches. However, if the rise of the ridges at the center is sharp like a spike, then it is known as a tented arch. Arch does not have a delta [Figure 1].[16]{Figure 1}


In these patterns, the ridges curve around only one extremity of the pattern and flow to the margin of the digit. The loop possesses only one delta/triradial point. Depending on which side the loop opens, it can be an ulnar loop (UL) or radial loop. If the loop opens toward the ulna bone, it is known as the UL, and if it opens toward the radial bone, it is known as the radial loop. Thus, the UL and radial loops differ in both the hands. For example, on the left hand, a loop that opens to the left would be an UL, while the one that opens to the right would be a radial loop [Figure 2].[16]{Figure 2}


In this classification, ridges assume the pattern of concentric circles encircling the core and are designated as whorls. These configurations have two or more deltas, usually on both radial and ulnar sides of the patterns. The simplest whorl has ridges commonly arranged as a succession of concentric rings or ellipses and is known as a plain (simple) whorl. Those patterns that are not entirely concentric but spiral around a core in either a clockwise or a counterclockwise direction are referred to as a double or a spiral whorl. Whorls can also take the form of spiral, shell, circle, target, or eye.

Complex patterns, not qualifying under any of these categories, constitute accidental whorls. A central pocket loop/whorl is a pattern containing a loop and a whorl, where a small whorl is enclosed by a loop [Figure 3].[16]{Figure 3}

Statistical analysis

Statistical analysis was conducted using? SPSS Inc. Released 2008. SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 17.0. Chicago,USA: SPSS Inc. Age and DMFT were categorized. Age was dichotomized as “≥21 years” and “≥22 years” across the mean age (21 years). DMFT was dichotomized into “DMFT = 0” and “DMFT = 1.” Age, sex, and dermatoglyphic patterns were considered as the independent variables and DMFT as a dependent variable. Univariate, trivariate, and multiple logistic regression was done to identify the dermatoglyphic pattern that would predict DMFT ≥1. Pearson's correlation analysis was done to find the correlated factors by determining factors with a significance of P = 0.05.


A total of 440 students participated in the study with a response rate of 88%. The mean age of the participants was 21 years and varied between 17 and 27 years. The average DMFT of the study population was 3.84 and DMFT ranged from 0 to 13.

[Table 1] presents the distribution of participants according to age, sex, DMFT, and dermatoglyphic patterns. Many of the participants (60.9%) were of the younger age group (≥21 years). A higher proportion (76.4%) of students were females. Nearly 80% of them had at least one DMFT. Of all the dermatoglyphic patterns, the UL was more common (68.6%).{Table 1}

[Table 2] shows that students of age ≥21 years and females had a higher prevalence of DMFT than older and male students, respectively.{Table 2}

[Table 3] shows that age, sex, and dermatoglyphic patterns are correlated with DMFT = 1.{Table 3}

The results from unilogistic and multilogistic regression are presented in [Table 4]. Age and sex are associated with DMFT. Among all the types of dermatoglyphic patterns, the UL was associated with DMFT after adjusting for age and sex.{Table 4}


Dental caries is a multifactorial microbial disease of the calcified tissues of the teeth, characterized by demineralization of the inorganic portion and destruction of the organic substance of the tooth. Dental caries is the most common oral disease. Even with an increased focus on preventive methods, caries still emerges as the major cause of tooth loss. It is a chronic, complex, multifactorial disease, for which a multitude of etiologies such as host, genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors have been proposed. It is important to realize that genes and environmental conditions do not act freely of each other and the appearance or magnitude of heritability may differ in various environments.[6],[7]

The basis of studying the relationship between dermatoglyphics and various dental anomalies is due to the development of teeth and associated structures, which coincides with the development of epidermal ridges during the 6th–13th week of intrauterine life. Therefore, abnormalities in these areas are influenced by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, but only when the combined factors exceed a certain level abnormalities are expected to appear.[8],[9] This threshold theory has been advanced by studies of Carter (1969) and Matsunga (1977) and is now well accepted. Any environmental or genetic predisposing factors present during the process of development of dental hard tissues might affect and get recorded in the dermal ridges.

These dermatoglyphic patterns can be used as an oral health marker, which can help us determine the probability of genetic predisposition of individuals to dental caries. The type of fingerprints is unique and unalterable and is based on the genetic constitution of each individual. These dermal patterns once formed remain constant throughout life, and also, the impression recording or fingerprint can be accomplished rapidly, inexpensively, and without causing any trauma to the patient.[10],[11],[12]

The use of stamp pad ink for recording fingerprints has certain disadvantages. The imprint is affected by the amount of pressure exerted while it is recorded. Thus, care must be taken while recording the prints to apply the ink material in adequate amounts. A thick or thin application can result in dark or light, improper prints.[5]

Statistically, a significant association was seen between the dermatoglyphic pattern and DMFT in our study. The dermatoglyphic pattern varied significantly among the subjects; the loop pattern of fingerprint was found to be more prevalent in students having 1 or more DMFT. The presence of loop pattern was significantly associated with the prevalence of DMFT ≥1 in the individuals. Our results were in contrast to the previous studies by Vijender et al., Madan et al., and Sengupta et al., where whorls pattern was found to be higher in individuals with higher caries experience. However, the result of the study is similar to the studies done by Agravat et al., and Madhussudan et al., in which a positive correlation was found between loop pattern and DMFT.[13],[14]

As per our study, there exists a statistically significant relationship between loop pattern and dental caries. The loop pattern and dental caries were positively correlated (P = 0.05). Thus, with an increase in the loop pattern, there was an increase in dental caries.


UL was associated with dental caries prevalence.

Dermatoglyphics can be used as a screening method to provide the preventive treatment to individuals. Dermatoglyphics is an upcoming integral part of medicine and forensic science. The correlation of dermatoglyphics with dental abnormalities is still in its nascent stages, and presently, it is safe to say that the various fingerprint patterns can be considered as an indicator for the occurrence of congenital abnormalities. Dermatoglyphics has risen from obscurity to acceptability as a diagnostic tool. In the future, it may serve as an important tool that can predict the future health of a person. With the increasing advancements in machine learning and data analysis, a compilation of dermatoglyphics and associated medical data collected from a vast sample size could provide deep and solid insights that could be valuable in ways that might be incomprehensible with our current understanding.


We would like to acknowledge the staff of Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology and Conservative Dentistry for accommodating the study and all the students who participated in the study.

Ethical clearance

The ethical approval were obtained from srinivas institute of medical sciences and research Center, mukka, ethics Committee EC /0023M/18-19 and they approved the study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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