What is the Oral Microbiome? Here’s What You Need to Know

Image depicting a oral microbiome

Your oral microbiome is highly misunderstood and in fact, many people don’t even know this exists. Within your mouth is a community of microorganisms that play a vital role in your overall health. 

In this guide, we’ll explain what your oral microbiome is and how your habits and diet impact the health of your mouth. 

What is Your Oral Microbiome?

Your oral microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that live in your mouth. These can include fungi, bacteria, and viruses. 

As you read this, it might sound disgusting or dirty but in fact, these microorganisms are an important part of your overall health. They live on your teeth, gums, tongue, and oral tissues and create balance in the mouth.

The oral microbiome helps provide a certain level of good bacteria in the mouth but sometimes bad bacteria can create an imbalance. 

Too much bad bacteria in the mouth can lead to oral diseases like tooth decay and gum disease. 

Why is the Oral Microbiome so Important?

The oral microbiome plays an important role in your overall oral health. The presence of good bacteria in your mouth helps balance out bad bacteria. 

If there’s too much bad bacteria in your mouth you can end up with oral diseases like tooth decay and halitosis

The oral microbiome also helps to strengthen the immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies and immune cells. 

What’s more, the oral microbiome may have an impact on overall health, as it has been linked to various systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

What Affects the Oral Microbiome?

If you’re trying to heal your oral microbiome, you’ll want to understand the various factors that impact it. 


A diet that’s high in sugar can cause an overproduction of bacteria in the mouth. This leads to tooth decay and has a negative impact on your oral biome, especially if you don’t implement proper oral hygiene. 

Oral Hygiene

If you don’t brush and floss properly it can cause a buildup of plaque and tartar in your mouth. This leads to a change in the number of bad bacteria in your mouth, which in turn leads to many of the problems we’ve discussed so far. 


Medications such as antibiotics kill off the good bacteria in your mouth which can cause an imbalance. This leads to bad breath and other negatives. 

Medical Ailments

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and HIV can make an individual more susceptible to oral diseases by altering the oral microbiome.


Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause, and adolescence can affect the oral microbiome.


Bad habits like smoking and drinking have been linked to negative effects on the oral microbiome. They can also lead to a higher risk of oral cancer

How Do You Build an Oral Microbiome?

To learn how to improve your oral microbiome, you want to first start with your habits. Using a toothpaste with prebiotics can help feed and promote more good bacteria in your mouth while reducing the harmful ones. 

It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding sugary and acidic foods, and visiting the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. 

Incorporating probiotics, such as those found in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, can help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the mouth. It is also important to quit smoking, as it can have negative effects on the oral microbiome.

The best mouthwash for your oral microbiome is typically an alkaline formula with prebiotics such as inulin, xylitol and erythritol that won’t kill off the good bacteria. 

What Foods Promote Good Mouth Bacteria?

Here are some foods that can help your oral microbiome:

  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi
  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples, and celery
  • Foods rich in vitamin C like oranges and berries
  • Calcium-rich foods like cheese, milk, and cruciferous vegetables
  • Food containing antioxidants such as tea, red wine, and dark chocolate

Final Thoughts

While it might not seem like a big deal, every time you skip a tooth brushing or eat something sugary, it has a negative effect on your overall health. 

Your microbiome is linked to the rest of your body and you’d be surprised how much of an impact your mouth has on your quality of life. Oral microbiome testing can help you determine whether or not your mouth is healthy. 

In fact, this and many other important points about oral health are discussed in Dr. Hoss’s book, “If Your Mouth Could Talk.”

Learn more about oral health in Dr’s new book, “If Your Mouth Could Talk”!

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About the Author

About Dr. Kami Hoss

Dr. Kami Hoss is a nationally sought-after expert with a master’s in craniofacial biology from USC, a doctorate in dental surgery from UCLA, and a post-doctorate in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. With over 25 years of experience in the dental field, Dr. Hoss is a #1 National Best Seller author frequently featured on NBC, ABC, FOX, NPR, and CBS affiliates, and founder of The Super Dentists, one of the leading multi-specialty dental practices in the country.

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