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The Oral Microbiome & Systemic Disease

Course Number: 561


As a result of the previous discussion, it is clear that the oral microbiome is both complex and very important in regard to oral and systemic health. There has been a lot of attention focused on gut health, probiotics and the gut microbiome. Because of this, the public may be more receptive to improving oral and systemic health with interventions that influence the oral microbiome. As the oral microbiome and its interactions are more fully elucidated, more interventions will emerge as a potential remedy for oral disease. For instance, toothpastes are being designed with ingredients, such as zinc and arginine, to kill bacteria while fortifying the soft tissue.62 It is important for dental professionals to stay up to date on the research in order to be informed and better able to answer patient questions that arise.

Due to the new information on metagenomics and the Human Microbiome, it is likely that Precision Medicine will become more common when treating patients. According to the Precision Medicine Initiative, precision medicine is defined as “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person.”8 This type of approach can be helpful for considering the differences between individuals when planning treatment, rather than looking at what might work for the average person.8 This type of personalized care can also be seen in the concept of P4 medicine, which is named for the following four attributes: predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory.62 This type of medicine uses a combination of biology and technology to analyze data for clinical practice, which will enable practitioners to demystify disease and focus on wellness for individuals.63 This type of practice will be very beneficial in dentistry as well. In closing, as research on the human oral microbiome and subsequent interventions continue to develop, it is exciting to consider the possible applications for advancing oral health care.