The Oral Microbiota

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;902:45-60. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-31248-4_4.


The oral microbiota represents an important part of the human microbiota, and includes several hundred to several thousand diverse species. It is a normal part of the oral cavity and has an important function to protect against colonization of extrinsic bacteria which could affect systemic health. On the other hand, the most common oral diseases caries, gingivitis and periodontitis are based on microorganisms. While (medical) research focused on the planktonic phase of bacteria over the last 100 years, it is nowadays generally known, that oral microorganisms are organised as biofilms. On any non-shedding surfaces of the oral cavity dental plaque starts to form, which meets all criteria for a microbial biofilm and is subject to the so-called succession. When the sensitive ecosystem turns out of balance - either by overload or weak immune system - it becomes a challenge for local or systemic health. Therefore, the most common strategy and the golden standard for the prevention of caries, gingivitis and periodontitis is the mechanical removal of this biofilms from teeth, restorations or dental prosthesis by regular toothbrushing.

Keywords: Biofilm; Dental plaque; Health-disease-relationship; Periodontitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Dental Caries / microbiology*
  • Dental Caries / pathology
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology*
  • Dental Plaque / pathology
  • Gingivitis / microbiology*
  • Gingivitis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Mouth / pathology
  • Oral Hygiene / methods
  • Periodontitis / microbiology*
  • Periodontitis / pathology