Publication date: Sep 20, 2023
The human mouth, or oral cavity, is at the crossroads of our external and internal environments, and it is increasingly evident that local colonization of dental, oral, and craniofacial (DOC) tissues and cells by bacteria and viruses may also have systemic effects across myriad diseases and disorders. Better understanding of this phenomenon will require a holistic understanding of host-microbial interactions in both spatiotemporal and biogeographical contexts while also considering person-, organ-, tissue-, cell-, and molecular-level variation. After the acute phase interaction with microbes, the establishment of site-specific reservoirs constitutes an important relationship to understand within the human body; however, despite a preliminary understanding of how viral reservoirs originate and persist across the human body, the landscape of single-cell and spatial multiomic tools has challenged our current understanding of what cells and niches can support microbial reservoirs. The lack of complete understanding impacts research into these relevant topics and implementing precision care for microbial-induced or microbial-influenced diseases. Here, via the lens of acute and chronic microbial infections of the DOC tissues, the goal of this review is to highlight and link the emerging spatiotemporal biogeography of host-viral interactomics at 3 levels: (1) DOC cell types in distinct tissues, (2) DOC-associated microbes, and (3) niche-specific DOC pathologies. Further, we will focus on the impact of postacute infectious syndromes such as long COVID, neurodegenerative disorders, and other underappreciated postviral conditions. We will provide hypotheses about how DOC tissues may play roles systemically in these conditions. Throughout, we will underscore how COVID-19 has catalyzed a new understanding of these biological questions, discuss future directions to study these phenomena, and highlight the utility of noninvasive oral biofluids in screening, monitoring, and intervening to prevent and/or ameliorate human infectious diseases.