Introduction: Knowledge of the early oral colonization patterns could provide a better understanding of oral biofilm development and disease initiation that in turn could be the basis for early preventive programmes.
Methods: Microbial samples were collected from five different oral habitats from a total of 93 children (age 3-12 years), attending the Dental School of the University of Athens, who were split into three age groups. A total of 38 microbial species were sought out by the checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization technique.
Results: All of the test species, except Parvimonas micra and Porphyromonas gingivalis, differed significantly among sample locations providing quite distinct microbial profiles for the different oral surfaces. Supragingival and subgingival plaque had similar profiles and exhibited higher proportions of Actinomyces species and Green complex while soft tissue samples were dominated by streptococci of the Yellow complex. The profiles of the tongue dorsum and saliva were also similar. Many of the species were in similar proportions in all three age groups for a given location. Periodontal pathogens showed increases in proportions with increasing age. Specifically, the Red complex species (Tannerella forsythia, P. gingivalis, Treponema denticola) showed a significant increase in proportion with age (P < 0.05) in all sample locations.
Conclusions: The results showed a pattern of colonization in children similar to that previously found in adults. Differences in the profile between age groups suggest a gradual maturation of the oral microbiota, with it being made up of an increasing number of Orange and Red complex species.