The tongue microbiota of elderly adults is composed of two cohabiting commensal groups and their ratios are related to the number of teeth with dental caries experience. In this study, the variation in the tongue microbiota of primary school children and its relationship with the dental caries experience were investigated. We examined the tongue microbiota of 138 children aged 6 to 7 years and 11 to 12 years (61 and 77 children, respectively) who underwent annual dental examinations. The bacterial composition was determined by sequencing the V1-V2 region of the 16S rRNA gene. Cooccurrence network analysis indicated two groups of cohabiting predominant commensals in the tongue microbiota of children. The microbiota in children without a history of dental caries showed significantly higher relative abundances of one of the cohabiting groups, primarily composed of Neisseria subflava, Porphyromonas pasteri, and Fusobacterium periodonticum, compared to that in children with a history of dental caries, which is consistent with that of elderly adults with fewer teeth with dental caries experience. Linear discriminant analysis effect size (LEfSe) further identified Streptococcus oralis subsp. dentisani, belonging to the aforementioned commensal group, as a discriminant species in children without dental caries experience aged 6 to 7 years and 11 to 12 years. Our results describe the tongue microbiota composition of primary school children without history of dental caries and support the possibility that dental caries experience is accompanied by a shift in the tongue microbiota.IMPORTANCE Dental caries is now considered to be caused by acids produced by the overall dental plaque microbiota rather than by specific pathogens. This study focused on the relationship between dental caries experience and the variations in tongue microbiota, which is adjacent but separate from the dental plaque microbiota. Our results demonstrated that the tongue microbiota of primary school children with no history of dental caries experience was composed of predominant commensals with different relative abundances compared to those present in children with dental caries experience, suggesting that dental caries experience is accompanied by a shift in the tongue microbiota. The maintenance of a healthy tongue microbiota may indirectly contribute to the prevention of dental caries.
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