The oral mucosa, which is the lining tissue of the oral cavity, is a gateway to the body and it offers first-line protection against potential pathogens, exogenous chemicals, airborne allergens, etc. by means of its physical and microbiological-immune barrier functions. For this reason, oral mucosa is considered as a mirror to the health of the individual as well as a guard or early warning system. It is organized in two main components: a physical barrier, which consists of stratified epithelial cells and cell–cell junctions, and a microbiological-immune barrier that keeps the internal environment in a condition of homeostasis. Different factors, including microorganism, saliva, proteins and immune components, have been considered to play a critical role in disruption of oral epithelial barrier. Altered mucosal structure and barrier functions results in oral pathologies as well as systemic diseases. About 700 kinds of microorganisms exist in the human mouth, constituting the oral microbiota, which plays a significant role on the induction, training and function of the host immune system. The immune system maintains the symbiotic relationship of the host with this microbiota. Crosstalk between the oral microbiota and immune system includes various interactions in homeostasis and disease. In this review, after reviewing briefly the physical barriers of oral mucosa, the fundamentals of oral microbiome and oral mucosal immunity in regard to their barrier properties will be addressed. Furthermore, their importance in development of new diagnostic, prophylactic and therapeutic strategies for certain diseases as well as in the application for personalized medicine will be discussed.
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