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. 2018 Feb;29(1):78-85.
doi: 10.1177/0022034517736496.

The Caries Microbiome: Implications for Reversing Dysbiosis


The Caries Microbiome: Implications for Reversing Dysbiosis

A C R Tanner et al. Adv Dent Res. .


The oral microbiome plays a critical role in maintaining oral health. Frequent dietary carbohydrate intake can lead to dysbiosis of the microbial community from overproduction of acid with selection for increases in acidogenic, acid-tolerant bacteria. Knowledge of the caries-associated microbiome is key in planning approaches to reverse the dysbiosis to achieve health. For risk assessment and treatment studies, it would be valuable to establish whether microbial monitoring requires assay of multiple species or whether selected key species would suffice. Early investigations of the oral microbiota relied on culture-based methods to determine the major bacteria in health and disease. Microbial monitoring using gene probes facilitated study of larger populations. DNA probe methods confirmed and expanded the importance of transmission of bacteria from mother to infant and association of preselected species, including mutans streptococci and lactobacilli with caries in larger populations. 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) probes confirmed the wide diversity of species in oral and caries microbiomes. Open-ended techniques provide tools for discovery of new species, particularly when strain/clone identification includes gene sequence data. Anaerobic culture highlighted the caries association of Actinomyces and related species. Scardovia wiggsiae, in the Actinomyces/Bifidobacterium family, and several Actinomyces species have the cariogenic traits of acid production and acid tolerance. Next-generation sequencing combined with polymerase chain reaction methods revealed a strong association with mutans streptococci in a high caries population with poor oral hygiene and limited access to care. A population with a lower caries experience generally had lower or no Streptococcus mutans detection but harbored other acidogenic taxa in the microbiome. Study of the microbiome suggests a role for the assay of selected putative cariogenic species in more aggressive diseases. For many populations with caries progression, however, assay of multiple species will likely be warranted to determine the caries profile of the population and/or individuals under study.

Keywords: Actinomyces; Streptococcus mutans; biofilms; microbiology; pediatric dentistry; risk assessment.

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