New York: The bacteria in the human mouth - particularly those nestled under the gums - are as powerful as a fingerprint at identifying a person's ethnicity, a research has found.
The research was published in the latest issue of the journal PLOS ONE.
Scientists from the Ohio State University identified almost 400 different species of microbes in the mouths of 100 study participants belonging to four ethnic affiliations - Chinese, Latinos, whites and non-Hispanic blacks.
Researchers collected samples of bacteria from the saliva, tooth surfaces and under the gums of the participants.
Researchers think the findings could help explain why people in some ethnic groups, especially African Americans and Latinos, are more susceptible than others to developing gum disease.
Kumar said bacteria below the gums are most closely linked to ethnicity identification because they are the least likely to be disrupted by environmental changes in the mouth, such as food, toothpaste and tobacco.
"This is the first time it has been shown that ethnicity is a huge component in determining what you carry in your mouth," Purnima Kumar, associate professor at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study said.
"We know that our food and oral hygiene habits determine what bacteria can survive and thrive in our mouths, which is why your dentist stresses brushing and flossing. Can your genetic makeup play a similar role? The answer seems to be yes, it can," she added.