Despite widely used preventive measures such as sealant programs to control caries prevalence, disparities are seen among ethnic groups. Supragingival plaque harbors hundreds of bacterial species, playing a significant role in oral health and disease. It is unknown whether the ethnic variation influences the supragingival microbiota in children. In our study, variations in microbiota of the supragingival plaque was investigated from 96 children between 6 and 11 years old in four ethnic groups (African American, Burmese, Caucasian, and Hispanic) from the same geographic location by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. We found that the microbial alpha and beta diversity of supragingival microbiota significantly differed between ethnic groups. The supragingival plaque microbiota had the most complex microbial community in Burmese children. Within-group microbiota similarity in Burmese or Caucasian children was significantly higher than between-groups similarity. We identified seven ethnic group-specific bacterial taxa after adjusting for dental plaque index, decayed missing filled teeth (DMFT) and the frequency of brushing. Children with high plaque index and high DMFT values were more similar to each other in the overall microbial community, compared to low plaque index or low DMFT groups in which inter-subject variation is high. Several bacterial taxa associated with high plaque index or high DMFT were ethnic group-specific. These results demonstrated that supragingival microbiota differed among ethnicity groups in children.
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