“[It is reasonable to state PD, due to high-risk pathogens, is a contributory cause of atherosclerosis. Distinguishing this type of PD as causal provides a significant opportunity to reduce arterial disease.]” This quote was cited in a previous blog post discussing the first journal article that demonstrated perio pathogens cause atherosclerotic plaques, which lead to cardiovascular events including heart attacks and strokes. The last half dozen words in the quote above are the most impactful; “significant opportunity to reduce arterial disease.”
The causality noted in the article involves the inflammatory component of periodontal disease, which is caused by specific perio pathogens, and the perio pathogens themselves independent of perio disease. So what do we do about this? We go to the source of the problem: the bacteria. Particularly, we identify the specific bacteria causing an individual’s case of periodontal disease. The bacterial population is unique for everyone, like a fingerprint. A physician cannot guess what someone’s HDL and LDL levels are; they find out by testing. Dental professionals cannot guess what bacteria need to be controlled, so we need to find out by testing. Pre-operative bacterial identification by salivary testing enhances treatment planning and optimizes the patient’s chances for a favorable outcome. Post-op testing indicates the specific bacterial results of treatment. When the clinical results are compared to the bacterial results the likelihood of disease recurrence is revealed.
It is time we understand that the primary reason for salivary testing is the significant opportunity to reduce arterial disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. The technology to enhance patient outcomes is available; therefore the dental profession needs to progress past the use of a notched stick approach and treating patients blindly. The well-being of our patients depend on it.