Knowledge of the polymicrobial etiology of root caries is limited. To conduct a comprehensive research study on root caries, we utilized 454-pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene libraries and quantitative PCR to compare supra-gingival bacterial communities from healthy sites and carious sites of 21 patients with root caries (Patient-controls and Patient-cases) and the sites of 21 healthy individuals (Healthy-controls) from two nursing homes. Healthycontrols and Patient-cases showed no significant differences in terms of biomass, species richness, and species diversity. However, as for beta diversity based on either community membership metric (unweighted UniFrac) or community structure metric (weighted Uni- Frac), Healthy-controls and Patient-cases were clearly distinguished from each other, appearing more variable in the community membership and structure in root caries microbiome but relatively conserved in the health microbiome. The Patient-controls group was at an intermediate stage between Healthy-controls and Patient-cases, but was more inclined to the former. Demonstrated in both relative abundance and prevalence of species in health and root caries, Propionibacterium acidifaciens, Streptococcus mutans, Olsenella profusa, Prevotella multisaccharivorax, and Lactobacillus crispatus were found to be most associated with root caries, whereas Delftia acidovorans, Bacteroidetes[G-2] sp., Lachnospiraceae[ G-3] sp., and Prevotella intermedia are most associated with health. Our study provides a basis for further elucidating the microbial etiology of root caries in the elderly.