When you think of the word ‘ecosystem’, you might be thinking of an expansive forest with different flora. We think ecosystem, and we think big. Yet every ecosystem rests on a foundation of invisible microbes: fungi, bacteria and viruses. Our tendency to imagine ecosystems as large-scale structures is one reason why many people do not think of the body as an ecosystem.
Your body is a superorganism
There are trillions of invisible organisms living in and on us, forming communities that participate in the ecosystem of the human body. The microbial communities within our bodies, and the collective genomes of all these microbes altogether create the human microbiome.
A Gateway Ecosystem
The mouth, as a gateway to the rest of the body, contains one of the most significant microbiomes. It‘s the first meeting place between the outside environment, the gut, the immune system, and all the signalling molecules that interact in between.
Within the oral cavity, there are a number of different habitats. These include the tongue, cheeks, tonsils, gums, teeth, hard and soft palates, and tonsils. Understanding these habitats can provide us with better insight into the oral microbiome’s role in bodily health and disease.
We can characterize good oral health as a balance between symbiotic, commensal, and pathogenic bacteria. When something knocks the equilibrium of the oral ecosystem out of balance, the oral cavity becomes more vulnerable to diseases. Furthermore, these diseases can potentially affect different areas of the body; for instance, researchers have recently discovered that the inflammatory processes in periodontal disease is linked to diseases like cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer.
In August of last year, we created our first visual, annotated bibliography containing our curated research on the oral microbiome. While it was good for its time and for its content, you deserve something great.
That is why we are incredibly excited to share with you our redesigned visual annotated oral microbiome bibliography with updated research. We hope it delights you, interests you, inspires you to explore the ecosystem that has been right beneath your nose your whole life.
Written by: Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA, Hailey Motooka
Created by: Hailey Motooka