Sociodemographic variation in the oral microbiome

Audrey Renson, Heidi E. Jones, Francesco Beghini, Nicola Segata, Christine P. Zolnik, Mykhaylo Usyk, Thomas U. Moody, Lorna Thorpe, Robert Burk, Levi Waldron, Jennifer B. Dowd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Variations in the oral microbiome are potentially implicated in social inequalities in oral disease, cancers, and metabolic disease. We describe sociodemographic variation of oral microbiomes in a diverse sample. Methods: We performed 16S rRNA sequencing on mouthwash specimens in a subsample (n = 282) of the 2013–2014 population-based New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Study. We examined differential abundance of 216 operational taxonomic units, and alpha and beta diversity by age, sex, income, education, nativity, and race/ethnicity. For comparison, we examined differential abundance by diet, smoking status, and oral health behaviors. Results: Sixty-nine operational taxonomic units were differentially abundant by any sociodemographic variable (false discovery rate < 0.01), including 27 by race/ethnicity, 21 by family income, 19 by education, 3 by sex. We found 49 differentially abundant by smoking status, 23 by diet, 12 by oral health behaviors. Genera differing for multiple sociodemographic characteristics included Lactobacillus, Prevotella, Porphyromonas, Fusobacterium. Conclusions: We identified oral microbiome variation consistent with health inequalities, more taxa differing by race/ethnicity than diet, and more by SES variables than oral health behaviors. Investigation is warranted into possible mediating effects of the oral microbiome in social disparities in oral and metabolic diseases and cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-80.e2
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Demographics
  • Health disparities
  • Oral microbiome
  • Social epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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