Impact of breastfeeding and other early-life factors on the development of the oral microbiome

Front Microbiol. 2023 Sep 7:14:1236601. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2023.1236601. eCollection 2023.


The oral cavity is home to the second most diverse microbiome in the human body. This community contributes to both oral and systemic health. Acquisition and development of the oral microbiome is a dynamic process that occurs over early life; however, data regarding longitudinal assembly of the infant oral microbiome is scarce. While numerous factors have been associated with the composition of the infant oral microbiome, early feeding practices (breastfeeding and the introduction of solids) appear to be the strongest determinants of the infant oral microbiome. In the present review, we draw together data on the maternal, infant, and environmental factors linked to the composition of the infant oral microbiome, with a focus on early nutrition. Given evidence that breastfeeding powerfully shapes the infant oral microbiome, the review explores potential mechanisms through which human milk components, including microbes, metabolites, oligosaccharides, and antimicrobial proteins, may interact with and shape the infant oral microbiome. Infancy is a unique period for the oral microbiome. By enhancing our understanding of oral microbiome assembly in early life, we may better support both oral and systemic health throughout the lifespan.

Keywords: HMOs; breastfeeding; infant diet; lactoferrin; lysozyme; oral microbiome; sIgA.

Publication types

  • Review