The development of a diagnostic system based on DNA microarrays for rapid identification and enumeration of microbial species in the oral cavity is described. This system uses gel-based microarrays with immobilized probes designed within a phylogenetic framework that provides for comprehensive microbial monitoring. Understanding the community structure in the oral cavity is a necessary foundation on which to understand the breadth and depth of different microbial communities in the oral cavity and their role in acute and systemic disease. Our ultimate goal is to develop a diagnostic device to identify individuals at high risk for oral disease, and thereby reduce its prevalence and therefore the economic burden associated with treatment. This article discusses recent improvements of our system in reducing diffusional constraints in order to provide more rapid and accurate measurements of the microbial composition of saliva.