The salivary microbiota in health and disease
Section for Periodontology and Microbiology, Department of Odontology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
The salivary microbiota (SM), comprising bacteria shed from oral surfaces, has been shown to be individualized, temporally stable and influenced by diet and lifestyle. SM reflects local bacterial alterations of the supragingival and subgingival microbiota, and periodontitis and dental-caries associated characteristics of SM have been reported. Also, data suggest an impact of systemic diseases on SM as demonstrated in patients with a wide variety of systemic diseases including diabetes, cancer, HIV and rheumatoid arthritis. The presence of systemic diseases seems to influence salivary levels of specific bacterial species, as well as α- and β-diversity of SM. The composition of SM might thereby potentially mirror oral and general health status. The contentious development of advanced molecular techniques such as metagenomics, metatranscriptomics and metabolomics has enabled the possibility to address bacterial functions rather than presence in microbial samples. However, at present only a few studies have employed such techniques on SM to reveal functional and metabolic characteristics in oral health and disease. Future studies are therefore warranted to illuminate the possible impact of metabolic functions of SM on oral and general health status. Ultimately, such an approach has the possibility to reveal novel and personalized therapeutic avenues in oral and general medicine.