The Oral Microbiome
The oral cavity is a complex ecosystem, comprising several habitats including the teeth, gums, tongue and tonsils, all colonised by bacteria. The oral microbiota consists of approximately 600 taxa at the species level, with different groups and subsets inhabiting different niches.
The microbiota of the oral cavity exists as a complex biofilm that remains stable, despite environmental changes. However, dysbiosis, in form of infection, injury, dietary changes and risk-associated factors (e.g. smoking) may disrupt the biofilm community, favouring colonisation and invasion of pathogens.
Disruption of the biofilm community to a pathogenic profile, induces host immune responses, chronic inflammation and ultimately, the development of local and systemic disease. However, much of this damage is reversible if pathogenic communities are reduced, and homeostasis is restored.