Oral microbiome: possible harbinger for children's health

Int J Oral Sci. 2020 Apr 30;12(1):12. doi: 10.1038/s41368-020-0082-x.


The human microbiome functions as an intricate and coordinated microbial network, residing throughout the mucosal surfaces of the skin, oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and reproductive system. The oral microbiome encompasses a highly diverse microbiota, consisting of over 700 microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. As our understanding of the relationship between the oral microbiome and human health has evolved, we have identified a diverse array of oral and systemic diseases associated with this microbial community, including but not limited to caries, periodontal diseases, oral cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and inflammatory bowel syndrome. The potential predictive relationship between the oral microbiota and these human diseases suggests that the oral cavity is an ideal site for disease diagnosis and development of rapid point-of-care tests. The oral cavity is easily accessible with a non-invasive collection of biological samples. We can envision a future where early life salivary diagnostic tools will be used to predict and prevent future disease via analyzing and shaping the infant's oral microbiome. In this review, we present evidence for the establishment of the oral microbiome during early childhood, the capability of using childhood oral microbiome to predict future oral and systemic diseases, and the limitations of the current evidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Microbiota*
  • Mouth / microbiology*