M. Kilian et al.
For millions of years, our resident microbes have coevolved and coexisted with us in a mostly harmonious symbiotic relationship. We are not distinct entities from our microbiome, but together we form a ‘superorganism’ or holobiont, with the microbiome playing a significant role in our physiology and health. The mouth houses the second most diverse microbial community in the body, harbouring over 700 species of bacteria that colonise the hard surfaces of teeth and the soft tissues of the oral mucosa. Through recent advances in technology, we have started to unravel the complexities
of the oral microbiome and gained new insights into its role during both health and disease. Perturbations of the oral microbiome through modern-day lifestyles can have detrimental consequences for our general and oral health. In dysbiosis, the finely-tuned equilibrium of the oral ecosystem is disrupted, allowing disease-promoting bacteria to manifest and cause conditions such as caries, gingivitis and periodontitis. For practitioners and patients alike, promoting a balanced microbiome is therefore important to effectively maintain or restore oral health. This article aims to give an update on our current knowledge of the oral microbiome in health and disease and to discuss implications for modern-day oral healthcare.