oral microbiome health

Oral microbiome findings and ‘dentistry dogma’.

Oral microbiome findings and ‘dentistry dogma’

Today we look at a recently published paper about oral microbiome health and the idea that not all bacteria in the mouth is bad.

The journal: 


The paper: 

Oral microbiome findings challenge dentistry dogma (Oct 2021)

The author:

Kristina Campbell

Take-home points:

Recent research challenges traditional beliefs about the role of bacteria in oral health and disease. Traditional approaches to dentistry have focused on reducing the overall bacterial load in the mouth, however this focus assumes that all bacteria are potentially harmful. For example, recent studies have shown that the oral microbiome is much more complex than previously thought. Importantly, it is now known that many bacteria in the mouth are actually beneficial.

The paper discusses several key findings from recent research:

  1. The oral microbiome is highly diverse and varies widely between individuals.

  2. Some bacterial species in the mouth are associated with increased risk of disease, while others are associated with decreased risk.

  3. Antibiotic use disrupts the balance of the oral microbiome, potentially leading to increased risk of disease.

  4. The oral microbiome may be linked to systemic health. Some studies suggest that imbalances in the oral microbiome can contribute to diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Some of the factors that have been associated with “good” bacteria in the oral microbiome include:

  1. Production of antimicrobial compounds: Some bacterial species in the oral microbiome produce antimicrobial compounds. These protect against harmful pathogens.

  2. Modulation of the immune system: Certain bacteria  interact with the immune system to promote a healthy immune response and reduce inflammation.

  3. Nutrient production: Some bacterial species produce nutrients, such as vitamins, that are beneficial for overall health.

  4. Competition with harmful bacteria: By occupying the same niches in the oral microbiome as harmful bacteria, “good” bacteria can prevent harmful bacteria from gaining a foothold and causing disease.

  5. Maintenance of pH balance: Certain bacterial species can regulate the pH balance in the mouth, which helps  prevent harmful bacteria from growing.


To sum up, these findings may have important implications for dentistry. Above all else, a more nuanced approach to oral health is needed. Certainly this approach should account for the complex interactions between bacterial species in the mouth. 

New technologies, such as metagenomic sequencing, may be useful to better understand the oral microbiome. Therefore it is important to develop new approaches to dental care that focus on promoting a healthy microbiome rather than simply reducing bacterial load.

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