Written by: Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA, Hailey Motooka
Created by: Hailey Motooka
When we think of the word ‘ecosystem’, perhaps the first image that comes to mind is a lush forest comprised of communities of flora and fauna interacting with each other. We think ecosystem, and we think big. Yet every ecosystem rests on a foundation of invisible microbes: fungi, bacteria and viruses. Our bias to think only of what we can see is one of the reasons why many people are unaware that our bodies are an ecosystem as well.
Your body is a superorganism
There are trillions of invisible organisms living in and on, us, forming communities that each 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 contains one of the most significant microbiomes, because it is the gateway to the rest of the body. It is the first meeting place between the outside environment and your immune system, gut, and the signalling molecules they secrete to deal with the messy nutrients and toxins of food and outside microbes (including pathogens) that you take in.
Within the oral cavity, there are a number of different habitats, including the tongue, cheeks, tonsils, gums, teeth, hard and soft palates, and tonsils. Understanding the spatial arrangement of these habitats and patterns in community structures can provide better insight into microbial community composition, function, and ecological traits that underlie bodily health and disease.
Good oral health can be characterized as a balance between symbiotic, commensal and pathogenic bacterial communities. When the delicate equilibrium of the oral ecosystem is disrupted, this results in dysbiosis, making the oral cavity more vulnerable to diseases, such as dental caries and periodontal disease. Recent research has also associated inflammatory processes in periodontal disease with systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and possibly even cancer.
In August of last year, we created our first visual, annotated bibliography containing our curated research on the oral microbiome. It was good, for its time and for the content it contains…but you deserve something great.
That is why we are incredibly excited to share with you our redesigned version of our visual annotated oral microbiome bibliography, updated with research. We hope it delights you, interests you, inspires you to explore the ecosystem that has been right beneath your nose your whole life.