The oral cavity has the second largest and diverse microbiota after the gut harboring over 700 species of bacteria. It nurtures numerous microorganisms which include bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa. The mouth with its various niches is an exceptionally complex habitat where microbes colonize the hard surfaces of the teeth and the soft tissues of the oral mucosa. In addition to being the initiation point of digestion, the oral microbiome is crucial in maintaining oral as well as systemic health. Because of the ease of sample collection, it has become the most well-studied microbiome till date. Previously, studying the microbiome was limited to the conventional culture-dependent techniques, but the abundant microflora present in the oral cavity could not be cultured. Hence, studying the microbiome was difficult. The emergence of new genomic technologies including next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics has revealed the complexities of the oral microbiome. It has provided a powerful means of studying the microbiome. Understanding the oral microbiome in health and disease will give further directions to explore the functional and metabolic alterations associated with the diseased states and to identify molecular signatures for drug development and targeted therapies which will ultimately help in rendering personalized and precision medicine. This review article is an attempt to explain the different aspects of the oral microbiome in health.
Keywords: 16S rRNA; Human Oral Microbiome Database; microbiome; next-generation sequencing.