Oral microbiota analysisFind out what your oral microbiota can tell you about your oral health and other conditions. Further information
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Bacteria are a fundamental part of our organism. We live with them, and they provide us with immunological and metabolic benefits, although their imbalance can harm our health. Do you know the balance of your microbiota?
Find out now with the 24Genetics Oral Microbiota Test.
An oral microbiota analysis contains much information about the diseases you may be suffering from without knowing it. The microbiota of the mouth is directly associated with oral diseases, such as caries or periodontitis. But it is also less directly related to other pathologies, such as some types of cancer.
We perform our microbiota analysis in a specialized laboratory, different from the one we use for DNA genotyping. Therefore, if you purchase the All in One Plus Pack, your saliva sample will be split, and two different laboratories will independently study your DNA and oral microbiota. For this reason, the turnaround time to get your reports will be longer.
The analysis of bacteria in the oral microbiota focuses on balance. A particular bacterium can be found in the oral microbiota of a healthy person, but it can generate a pathology in another person. And what does this depend on? Sometimes a bacterium can be pathogenic on its own, but what usually makes the difference is the balance between all the bacteria that make up the microbiota. The different bacteria must be in harmony; this is called eubiosis. When this balance breaks, dysbiosis occurs, associated with various pathologies.
What is the microbiota?
The microbiota, also known as the microbiome, is the set of microorganisms that inhabit our body, especially in the gastrointestinal tract, the skin, respiratory and urogenital tracts. These microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes.
The importance of the microbiota lies in the fact that they perform essential functions for health, such as food digestion, vitamin production, and protection against pathogens. In addition, the microbiota has been shown to influence immune function, metabolism, and even behavior, which has led to increasing research into its role in various diseases and conditions, from gastrointestinal disorders to neurological and mental illnesses.
The importance of the analysis of the oral microbiota
The oral microbiota is the collection of microorganisms that inhabit the mouth, including the surface of the teeth, tongue, gums, and oral mucosa. These bacteria play essential roles in oral health, including protection against pathogens and digestion of food. A healthy oral microbiota is balanced, meaning the different types of bacteria are in percentages within normal levels. In other words, it isn’t so much the number of bacteria that is important as the proportion of the different types of bacteria.
When this balance breaks and dysbiosis, or imbalance in the oral microbiota, occurs, it’s associated with oral diseases such as caries, periodontitis, or halitosis. Identifying the species of microbes present in the oral microbiota can help diagnose and treat these diseases and provide information about the risk of diseases in other parts of the body.
Knowing the composition of our oral microbiota, which is the subject of our test, is very beneficial. It can provide important information about our oral health, but, in addition, it has been found that oral microbiota can also be associated with general health status through several mechanisms.
One of the most studied mechanisms is the ability of the microbiota to induce inflammation at the local and systemic levels. This chronically increased inflammation is a significant risk factor in various pathologies. Therefore, maintaining a balanced and healthy oral microbiota contributes to the body’s overall good health.
How is the oral microbiota analysis performed?
To carry out the study of the microbiota of the mouth, we only need one saliva sample. In addition, if you purchase another test apart from the microbiota study, you will not need two different samples: with the same sample, we will perform the DNA sequencing on the one hand and the microbiota analysis on the other. Both processes are performed in two different laboratories, each equipped with the most advanced and specific technology for each type of study.
Collecting the saliva sample is very simple. First, you must deposit a saliva sample in the test tube in the kit we send to your home. All the instructions on collecting your saliva sample for the mouth microbiota study are in this kit, but if you have any doubts, you can always contact our experts, who will help you with everything you need.
Once the saliva sample is collected, you must send it to our laboratory. The geneticists at 24Genetics will analyze your DNA and/or oral microbiota and prepare a report with the results. There, you will find a great deal of information about the bacteria in your mouth and their relationship with many pathologies.
Can the oral microbiota be modified?
The mouth microbiota can be modified through diet and oral hygiene changes and specific treatments.
Diet is one of the critical factors. For example, a diet rich in simple carbohydrates, such as sweets and soft drinks, can promote the growth of bacteria that increase dental caries and other pathologies, such as periodontitis.
On the other hand, proper oral hygiene, including regular teeth and tongue brushing, and dental floss and mouthwash, is essential to maintain a healthy oral microbiota.
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IS MICROBIOME THE SAME AS MICROBIOTA?
The microbiome is the set of microorganisms, genes, and metabolites of an organism. It is a broader and more general concept, while the microbiota corresponds to the microorganisms that inhabit our body, either in a specific part or in the whole.
However, outside the scientific field, both terms are used interchangeably and are often considered synonyms.
IS ORAL MICROBIOTA THE SAME AS INTESTINAL MICROBIOTA?
The oral microbiota is found in the mouth, and the intestinal microbiota is in the intestine. But the location, which gives it its name, is not the only difference between the two, but also the species and genera of bacteria that populate them. Some bacteria can be found in both areas of the body, but others are exclusive to one of them.
IS HAVING BACTERIA BAD?
It depends on which bacteria. We can have harmful bacteria, and some of them result in the inevitable development of a disease. Still, there are also bacteria called commensals, with which the body has a symbiotic relationship and which are harmless or even beneficial to us. However, an imbalance of these same commensal bacteria, either in the oral microbiota or elsewhere in the body (dysbiosis) can be detrimental to health.
The human microbiome is made up of 100 billion microorganisms, many of which benefit from us, and we benefit from them.
HOW RELIABLE ARE MY RESULTS?
Our methodology ensures that the result of your report closely matches the reality of your oral microbiota, and the number of scientifically validated studies we apply in our algorithm allows us to ensure that 24Genetics microbiota analysis is as reliable as science provides today.
Furthermore, we take care of the quality of our microbiota study in every detail of the process, from the collection of the samples to how we write our reports to make them easy to understand. Only by providing adequate and accurate information we will fulfill our purpose as a company: to help you take advantage of the knowledge of your oral microbiota to make the best decisions in the control of your health and well-being.
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I WILL GET DIFFERENT RESULTS IN MY MICROBIOTA STUDY COMPARED TO MY GENETIC HEALTH REPORT?
Yes, the reason is simple: the analysis of your microbiota is based on studying the bacteria in your mouth. At the same time, in your genetic health report, we analyze the DNA of your cells. In other words, the two analyses study different components and are complementary. Having both reports can help you have a more complete picture of your health and well-being.
DO MY RESULTS CHANGE THROUGHOUT MY LIFE?
They change even on the same day, depending on the hour or time of day you choose to perform the test. The mouth is a part of the body that undergoes a great deal of daily exposure to external agents, and consequently, bacterial communities are also impacted by these variations.
Unlike genetics, which hardly varies throughout life, the oral microbiota is constantly changing, so the idea of performing microbiota analysis at different times does make sense, as it would provide different results that would allow us to track the evolution and flow of the bacterial communities that inhabit our mouth.
IF MY RESULTS CHANGE THROUGHOUT THE DAY, HOW CAN I TRUST THEM?
Each oral microbiota report you receive is utterly faithful to your microbial reality at the time of the test. However, as we have already mentioned, the results may vary throughout the day due to the high exposure of our mouths to external agents. We could compare it to a blood test. Its reliability is not questioned; it’s used to make decisions after the results, although it varies every time we do a new one.
HOW MANY ORGANISMS ARE ANALYZED IN MY REPORT?
The microbiota analysis we carry out is exclusive of bacterial communities. So it’s usual to find dozens of different species or genera in a person’s saliva.
WHAT ORGANISMS ARE ANALYZED IN MY REPORT?
The 24Genetics microbiota analysis analyzes exclusively bacteria, not fungi or viruses.
CAN I HAVE A MICROBIOTA ANALYSIS IF I AM TAKING ANTIBIOTICS?
Antibiotics can alter the composition of the oral microbiota, so the results may not correspond to your current condition. Therefore, we recommend that you wait at least one month since the last dose of antibiotics to take your sample for microbiota analysis.
ARE THERE ANY IMPLICATIONS FOR PREGNANT WOMEN?
The hormonal changes during pregnancy can produce changes in the oral microbiota. Therefore, there is no contraindication in performing the microbiota study, although the results may differ from those obtained if you were not pregnant.
HOW IS THE MICROBIOTA ANALYSIS DONE?
You only have to deposit a saliva sample in the tube we will send to your home and return it to our offices. The process is the same as in any 24Genetics test. If you buy any of our genetic tests combined with your microbiota study, the analysis will be carried out with the same saliva sample; you will not need to send two samples.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO RECEIVE MY ORAL MICROBIOTA REPORT?
If you only perform your microbiota genetic analysis, you will receive the report in approximately 6 to 8 weeks. However, suppose you request your microbiota study and a genetic test simultaneously. In that case, this period can be 10 to 12 weeks since the sequencing of both analyses is different and performed sequentially in different laboratories.
WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED TWO TUBES IF I HAVE PURCHASED BOTH THE GENETIC HEALTH TEST AND THE ORAL MICROBIOTA TEST?
The microbiota study and the genetic health test can be carried out with a single saliva sample. That is why it is only necessary to send you one kit for the sample collection.
CAN I HAVE THIS ORAL MICROBIOTA ANALYSIS IN MY COUNTRY?
Of course, you can. We can send a saliva sample collection kit to your home or workplace, no matter where you live. As we have multiple warehouses worldwide, we will ship your order from the closest point to your residence so that you receive it quickly and can start your microbiota study as soon as possible.
ACCORDING TO THE RESULTS OF MY ORAL MICROBIOTA ANALYSIS, SHOULD I MAKE IMPORTANT CHANGES IN MY HABITS BY MYSELF?
Our microbiota study will give you information about your propensities to specific pathologies. However, you should not make significant changes in your treatments or health and wellness habits without validating your doctor, who will have access to more health history data.
ARE ALL ORAL MICROBIOTA TESTS OF THE SAME QUALITY?
There are few biotechnology companies with the capacity to perform this type of analysis. Our test is based on a state-of-the-art analysis, in which we analyze more than 100,000 sequences in your saliva. Other companies only give you information about the bacteria in your mouth. Still, at 24Genetics, we have also developed a complex algorithm to provide you with contrasted details on pathologies related to your oral microbiota, allowing you to make decisions that improve your health and well-being.
WHAT IS THIS ORAL MICROBIOTA ANALYSIS BASED ON?
When there is a high level of consensus, the most relevant scientific studies are made public through international institutions and organizations. To study your microbiota, we use a complex algorithm developed by our interdisciplinary team that incorporates hundreds of these studies recognized and accepted by the scientific community worldwide. Thanks to this, our reports have an exceptional level of quality.
WHAT EXACTLY WILL I RECEIVE WHEN I DO THIS MICROBIOTA STUDY?
We will send you a complete and personalized report on the microbiota of your mouth to the email address you have registered your kit with. In addition, you can request your raw data file* (an electronic file containing your genetic map) at any time, and we will send it to you by email.
* The raw data file is sent in FASTQ format.
HOW CAN I KEEP MY MICROBIOTA STUDY UP TO DATE?
Our multidisciplinary team works to include the most updated scientific advances in oral microbiota so that we can add to our report new pathologies for which interrelationships with bacteria have been found. We will inform you promptly when this happens so that you can perform another microbiota analysis and keep your results updated.
CAN ANYONE HAVE A MICROBIOTA ANALYSIS?
Anyone from 2 to 70 years old can take our microbiota test. The test is not contraindicated outside this age range, but accurate results cannot be guaranteed, which is why we at 24Genetics advise against it.
IS A MICROBIOTA ANALYSIS THE SAME AS A FOOD INTOLERANCE TEST?
No. A microbiota analysis is entirely different from a food intolerance test and a food allergy test. Microbiota studies are infinitely more complex and expensive than the tests mentioned above, and the information they provide cannot be obtained in any other way.
DOES MY MICROBIOTA ANALYSIS REPLACE MY DENTAL CONSULTATION?
The microbiota study offers an analysis of oral bacteria for preventive purposes for specific pathologies, including periodontitis. However, this test does not replace a consultation with a dentist or other health professionals, nor diagnostic tests.
CAN I BE DIAGNOSED WITH ANY NUTRITIONAL ALTERATION WITH THIS MICROBIOTA STUDY?
The 24Genetics microbiota study is not valid for clinical or diagnostic use. However, if your health professionals observe any relevant pathology in our reports, they may prescribe a second test with clinical validity to confirm such pathology.
IS THIS MICROBIOTA TEST VALID FOR CLINICAL OR DIAGNOSTIC USE?
No, this microbiota analysis is not valid for clinical or diagnostic use. However, suppose your dentist or physician considers any of the bacteria reflected in our report relevant to your health. In that case, he/she may prescribe a clinically valid test to confirm the bacteria in question. 24Genetics tests are preventive, and their leading utility is to bring to light health or wellness-related predispositions that are usually overlooked.
IF MY REPORT SAYS I HAVE A HIGH TENDENCY TO SUFFER FROM A CERTAIN PATHOLOGY, DOES THAT MEAN I WILL SUFFER FROM IT?
People are our microbiome, our genetics, and our experiences. Apart from your bacteria, many other environmental and physiological factors influence the development or not of a disease, so you can have high levels of a particular bacterium that marks propensity to a specific pathology and never develop it due to environmental issues, health habits, lifestyle…
Similarly, the analysis of your microbiota may indicate that there is no predisposition to develop a particular disease and yet suffer from it at some point in your life. Moreover, depending on the pathology, bacteria can have a greater or lesser influence on the onset or development of a disease. Knowledge of our microbiome through a microbiota study allows health professionals to carry out their work with much more information. In addition, it makes it possible to design prevention plans that can make a difference.