The oral microbiome consists of a planktonic microbiome residing in saliva and an adhering microbiome (the biofilm adhering to oral hard and soft tissues). Here we hypothesized that possible differences in microbial composition of the planktonic and adhering oral microbiome on teeth can be related to the forces by which different bacterial species are attracted to the tooth surface. The relative presence of 7 oral bacterial species in saliva and biofilm collected from 10 healthy human volunteers was determined twice in each volunteer by denaturing-gradient-gel electrophoresis. Analysis of both microbiomes showed complete separation of the planktonic from the adhering oral microbiome. Next, adhesion forces of corresponding bacterial strains with saliva-coated enamel surfaces were measured by atomic force microscopy. Species that were found predominantly in the adhering microbiome had significantly higher adhesion forces to saliva-coated enamel (-0.60 to -1.05 nN) than did species mostly present in the planktonic microbiome (-0.40 to -0.55 nN). It is concluded that differences in composition of the planktonic and the adhering oral microbiome are due to small differences in the forces by which strains adhere to saliva-coated enamel, providing an important step in understanding site- and material-specific differences in the composition of biofilms in the oral cavity.