The Salivary Crystal Ball – Part 2

Most general dental practices are providing the same types of services: diagnostic services, restorative procedures, prosthodontic procedures, endodontic procedures, surgical procedures and periodontal procedures. Of course there are variations in techniques and complexity of cases being undertaken, but substantially a wide swath of dental practices are providing the same services. When a patient comes for an appointment, depending on where they live and work, they are traveling past several or perhaps dozens of dental practices on the way to your office. What reasons are you giving them to pass the others, especially since they can likely get the same services at all or most of them? How do we set our practice apart from the others? Do we offer something unique? How many practices are looking past 3- or 6-month timeframes and truly helping patients enjoy a lifetime of outstanding oral health? Why isn’t every dental professional doing so, and what does that look like?

A patient presents to your office for an initial or a recare hygiene appointment. Perio probing is provided early in the appointment and bleeding occurs (BOP). We pick up a salivary test kit at this point and explain to the patient that we can predict their oral health going forward, which would help set the patient up for that lifetime of outstanding oral health. We further explain to the patient that the bacteria revealed by the test report gives valuable insight into their prognosis. The number of bacterial species provides clues to the likelihood of health or disease in the future. More bugs, more disease. Fewer bugs, more health.

The data provided by the salivary bacterial test will also be the most impactful reason of changes to home care, which is the most important determinant of oral health. For patients with good biofilm control efforts but still experiencing BOP, bacterial testing can provide insight into why this is happening. Still more to follow on this topic next time.

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READ MORE | BOP and gingivitis: Its time to draw a line in the sand

Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS
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