Pesticide exposure to alter the composition of oral microbiome, says research


The journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology published a study that reveals the harmful effects of pesticide exposure on the oral microbiome of the individuals. It states that exposure to pesticide has severe effects on the healthy bacteria in the mouth.

A hundred of healthy bacterial populations reside the mouth. Note that nature has maintained a delicate balance between friendly and potentially pathogenic species in the body. Healthy bacteria make up the oral microbiome which is as crucial as the intestinal microbiome. An imbalance in these bacterial species can give rise to greater corporal risks.

This respective research has found that pesticides don’t harm the bees only. The useful bacteria inhabiting the human mouth are also the subject to the harms of pesticide exposure.

Despite their serious risks, the market today is flooded with a wide variety of pesticides. Pesticides are strongly criticized for their role in the decimation of honeybee populations plus the harm they impose on the important pollinator insect species. For instance, there are over 50 different types of pesticides that have been linked to considerable declines in bee numbers.

What does the research say?

Researchers from Washington University conducted the respective research. They have found a potential link between pesticide exposure and the ruination of a healthy oral microbiome. Besides the long list of the harmful effects of the pesticides, the researchers focused its effects on oral microbiome because it plays a valuable role in human health.

The study employed 65 farm and 52 non-farm workers participants. They focused on examining their “oral buccal microbiota” – or the bacterial populations found on the inner cheeks. Moreover, they collected the blood and cheek samples from the participants during the spring and summer of 2005, as well as the winter of 2006.

The researchers made two discoveries,

  1. The farmers had higher levels of pesticides circulating in the bloodstream
  2. They demonstrated greater changes to their oral bacterial populations

The researchers found a seasonally constant alliance between the detected blood concentration of the insecticide “Azinphos-methyl” and the taxonomic composition of the buccal swab oral microbiome.

The researchers mentioned that the exposure of organophosphate pesticides significantly alters the oral microbiota composition in human subjects. Moreover, this exposure led to the extinction of whole genera in some individuals. However, this study did not investigate the health effects of these changes. Meanwhile, researches in the past have indicated that changes in oral bacterial populations may give rise to oral health issues.

How is healthy oral microbiome important?

Ever since today, a number of research studies have shown that a healthy, balanced flora is crucial for the overall health of the individual.

The British Dental Journal published a paper in 2016, describing the importance of a healthy oral microbiome in detail. It says that like our intestinal microbiome, these bacteria also promote the overall well-being of an individual. Moreover, the loss of a healthy oral microbiome is considered devastating to health.

The disruption of healthy, normal bacterial populations is called dysbiosis. It is thought to cause a number of ailments including dental cavities and periodontitis etc.

The author of the study explains the concept that the bacteria, historically considered as oral pathogens, can be found in low numbers at healthy sites. Beneficiary bacterial populations exist across the body. They have co-evolved along with the human species to create a dynamic and symbiotic relationship between the body and bacteria.

Our modern lives negatively impact this relationship and have deleterious effects on healthy bacteria. The deleterious changes to the natural balance of the microbiota give rise to oral diseases as mentioned above.



Like it? Share with your friends!

Areeba Hussain
The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format