BACKGROUND: Oral bacterial communities contain species that promote health and others that have been implicated in oral and/or systemic diseases. Culture-independent approaches provide the best means to assess the diversity of oral bacteria because most of them remain uncultivable. RESULTS: The salivary microbiota from five adults was analyzed at three time-points by means of the 454 pyrosequencing technology. The V1-V3 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA genes was amplified by PCR using saliva lysates and broad-range primers. The bar-coded PCR products were pooled and sequenced unidirectionally to cover the V3 hypervariable region. Of 50,708 obtained sequences, 31,860 passed the quality control. Non-bacterial sequences (2.2%) were removed leaving 31,170 reads. Samples were dominated by seven major phyla: members of Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes and candidate division TM7 were identified in all samples; Fusobacteria and Spirochaetes were identified in all individuals, but not at all time-points. The dataset was represented by 3,011 distinct sequences (100%-ID phylotypes) of ~215 nucleotides and 583 phylotypes defined at ≥97% identity (97%-ID phylotypes). We compared saliva samples from different individuals in terms of the phylogeny of their microbial communities. Based on the presence and absence of phylotypes defined at 100% or 97% identity thresholds, samples from each subject formed separate clusters. Among individual taxa, phylum Bacteroidetes and order Clostridiales (Firmicutes) were the best indicators of intraindividual similarity of the salivary flora over time. Fifteen out of 81 genera constituted 73 to 94% of the total sequences present in different samples. Of these, 8 were shared by all time points of all individuals, while 15-25 genera were present in all three time-points of different individuals. Representatives of the class Sphingobacteria, order Sphingobacteriales and family Clostridiaceae were found only in one subject. CONCLUSIONS: The salivary microbial community appeared to be stable over at least 5 days, allowing for subject-specific grouping using UniFrac. Inclusion of all available samples from more distant time points (up to 29 days) confirmed this observation. Samples taken at closer time intervals were not necessarily more similar than samples obtained across longer sampling times. These results point to the persistence of subject-specific taxa whose frequency fluctuates between the time points. Genus Gemella, identified in all time-points of all individuals, was not defined as a core-microbiome genus in previous studies of salivary bacterial communities. Human oral microbiome studies are still in their infancy and larger-scale projects are required to better define individual and universal oral microbiome core.