The importance of a balanced oral microbiota
Human beings are real super organisms. Research studies estimate that there are more bacterial cells in the body than human cells.
The total human genetic information (genome) is just a fraction of all genome present in the body. The majority is microbial information, called the microbiome. It may show how important it is to our existence.
The microbial ecosystem within us is called the microbiota. There is specific microbiota covering every surface of the outside world, including the gut.
It was the Dutch Antony van Leeuwenhoek who first identified microbes using a microscope constructed by him. He was called the father of microbiology. In 1674, he observed his own dental plaque and reported: “little living animalcules prettily moving.”
The understanding of the roles of the microbiome is growing rapidly. We know a lot about the importance of micro-organisms in our gut, on the skin, in the vagina or mouth. These have a critical part in keeping us healthy and connected in complex ways.
Ideally, the microbes are in balance – symbiosis – with their host.
This balance can, however, be disrupted leading to a new, disease-associated state called dysbiosis. Negative changes in the microbiome in several areas have been connected to diseases.
The bacteria at the very beginning of our gut, in the oral cavity, is less often talked about. For a long time, oral diseases were considered some kind of infection, such as tooth worms living in cavities and such theories.
Oral dysbiosis is associated with the most common chronic conditions on Earth such as:
gum disease (periodontal disease)
bad breath (halitosis)
heart, lung, joint, kidney problems
high level of systemic inflammation
Alzheimer's disease, and others.
Microbes in the mouth are crucial for health and they play central roles in preventing oral and systemic diseases. They mostly live in biofilms. This is important because this form provides robustness and complexity to survive and resist environmental changes.
There are about 700-1000 species of microbes in the human mouth. Only a handful of them can cause problems, those are called pathogenic species. Bacteria communities living together in a complex ecosystem are ideally mutually beneficial dynamics.
Understanding the roles of the oral microbiota are important to prevent the incidence of common oral conditions.