Evolution of the Oral Microbiome and Dental Caries
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Purpose of Review
Our paper reviews how dietary changes during human evolution have contributed to the increased incidence and prevalence of dental caries in modern populations by shifting the oral microbiome from a “healthy” to “carious” state. We addressed two questions: (1) what is the microbial difference between the states of health and caries, and (2) how has the development of an agricultural diet impacted the oral microbiome?
The application of next-generation sequencing has revealed the complexity of the oral microbiome and lack of a simple compositional difference between health and caries. Genetic analysis of the oral microbiome from contemporary and ancient humans has shown that the introduction of agriculture was associated with increased frequency of caries-related bacteria and the evolution of the key carious pathogen, Streptococcus mutans.
The adoption of an agricultural diet has contributed to a modern rise in caries by changing the oral microbiome ecology. Identification of evolutionary factors that have influenced the oral microbiome in health and caries, and how the two states differ functionally, as opposed to compositionally, may help to reduce the current burden of caries.
KeywordsOral microbiome Dental caries Evolution Diet Agriculture Hunter-gatherer
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
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