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Int J Oral Sci. 2009 June; 1(2): 47–58.
PMCID: PMC2949409
NIHMSID: NIHMS232341

Oral Microbiology: Past, Present and Future

Abstract

Since the initial observations of oral bacteria within dental plaque by van Leeuwenhoek using his primitive microscopes in 1680, an event that is generally recognized as the advent of oral microbiological investigation, oral microbiology has gone through phases of “reductionism” and “holism”. From the small beginnings of the Miller and Black period, in which microbiologists followed Koch's postulates, took the reductionist approach to try to study the complex oral microbial community by analyzing individual species; to the modern era when oral researchers embrace “holism” or “system thinking”, adopt new concepts such as interspecies interaction, microbial community, biofilms, poly-microbial diseases, oral microbiological knowledge has burgeoned and our ability to identify the resident organisms in dental plaque and decipher the interactions between key components has rapidly increased, such knowledge has greatly changed our view of the oral microbial flora, provided invaluable insight into the etiology of dental and periodontal diseases, opened the door to new approaches and techniques for developing new therapeutic and preventive tools for combating oral poly-microbial diseases.

Keywords: oral microbiology, biofilms, dental caries, oral pathogenesis

Articles from International Journal of Oral Science are provided here courtesy of Nature Publishing Group