Why does your pet’s (or partner’s) microbiome matter more than you thought?
Have you ever kissed someone? Have you ever shared a straw, a water bottle, a cigarette, a spoon or any surfaces that were in contact with someone else’s mouth? Do you share the environment with animals? Chances are that you’re frequently exchanging millions of microbes.
It’s been studied repeatedly whether key oral pathogens play a role in the development of gum disease, cavities or bad breath have any contagious characteristics.
There is no clear evidence for human infections yet. We know that increased risk of dental cavities or gum disease have a strong microbial origin, mainly bacteria that can be part of the normal oral microbiota too as opportunists.
The oral microbiota isn’t the same for everybody. Almost like our fingerprints a bit uniquely for everyone. Those who have active oral health issues have a different microbiota from healthy individuals. A handful of pathogens spiral out of balance, and reach volume and diversity that can be harmful when combined with other risk factors
Human infants are born sterile or close to that. At birth, the gut, the mouth and other body surfaces are not yet inhabited by their distinct microbiotas. Colonization of mucosal surfaces starts during and right after birth and continues to evolve throughout life.
Studies comparing microbiomes of those born via C-section or vaginal birth have found significant differences in the development of the gut and oral microbiomes.
It’s known that microbes can be transmitted from pets to owners. Several studies investigated the relation to the gut and the mouth flora between humans and pets. These species originate from the pet’s microbiota and can be communicated via physical contact and shared environment.
That includes surfaces or just by being in the same space for a longer period of time. The findings of potentially zoonotic and periodontopathic bacteria in the canine oral microbiomes may be a public health concern.
When two people share a household with frequent physical contact, e.g.: kissing, which involves exchange of saliva, frequent transmission of bacteria can be also similarly hypothesized.
Most oral conditions are multifactorial. This means that just having pathogen bacteria present won’t necessarily cause the disease, but the risk is highly increased as some are known as keystone pathogens.
If this microbiome alteration is paired with bad diet and oral hygiene routines, one can easily develop oral health problems.
What’s also interesting is the colonization of children’s mouths, and the origin of those microbial species. The most significant source of the microbiome seems to be the mother’s and the close environment.
This highlights the importance of a balanced oral microbiome before and after pregnancy. Certain periodontal pathogens are proven to increase risk of pregnancy complications such as premature birth.
Although oral diseases are not considered infectious, when there are routes of bacterial transmission from a foreign microbiota, it’s good to be aware of these negative potentials.