A Higher Standard of Care

For many years now, research has shown that there is a mouth body connection. In other words, what is happening in the mouth can impact what is happening with the body! In order for someone to have good health, they need to have good oral health. Unfortunately, periodontal disease is silent, as it does not hurt until it is severe. The minimal pain factor, as periodontal disease develops, may be why 80% of the United States population is suffering from periodontal disease. In the next paragraphs I will highlight a higher standard of care that, in my opinion, every patient deserves.

Just like the medical profession, dentistry is also evolving. What if I told you that by identifying the bacteria in your mouth and reducing that bacterial load you could reduce your chance of a heart attack and stroke(1)? Or what if by reducing the oral pathogen loads you could reduce your chance of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, respiratory disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or preterm labor(1)? Would identifying the bacteria in your mouth be worth it? Well guess what, you can!

OralDNA® Labs has a test called MyPerioPath ® which identifies 11 different strains of bacteria in your mouth that are directly related to periodontal disease and these bacteria have systemic implications too. Once they are identified, an individualized treatment plan is developed to target the specific bacterial profile. In my opinion, salivary bacterial testing should be the standard of care, and all patients should have the choice to do the test.

Studies have shown that if you are above the age of 50 and have active periodontal disease, your chances of a heart attack and stroke may increase by as much as 75 %.(2) Having a heart attack or stroke can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, can create serious physical consequences or even death, prevention is key. The MyPerioPath® test can play a significant role. Physicians and dentists can easily offer this test to all patients. Here is a personal account.

In 2011while updating a patient’s medical history, the patient mentioned having a heart attack three months prior and 3 stents were placed. His periodontal screening revealed healthy probing depths but moderate to heavy bleeding. We performed the MyPerioPath® test through OralDNA® Labs. Because of his history of heart attack, I wanted to better understand the root cause of his bleeding and inflamed gums as well as identify any oral pathogens that may have contributed to his cardiac issues. My patient tested positive for periodontal pathogenic bacteria which are also known to complicate cardiovascular disease. With the use of the saliva test, I was able to fully understand the seriousness of the periodontal disease and the potential impact to the patient’s overall health. After the initial periodontal therapy, the bacterial load was reduced and the patient has maintained remission for 6 years.

Cases like this one are the reason I am so passionate about what I do. I have the opportunity every work day to save someone’s life. Dental Hygienists don’t just clean teeth, they do so much more! Patients, the next time you visit your dental or doctor’s office, please take the time to have this test done. Just remember, it can save your life and you deserve this higher standard of care!

1. Genco, Robert J. DDS, PhD, Williams, Ray C. DMD,
“Periodontal-Disease-and-Overall-Health-A-Clinicians-Guide-2nd-Edition, 239-815”, 2014
2. El Kholy, Karim Genco, Robert J. and Van Dyke, Thomas E “Oral infections and cardiovascular disease” 2015

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Stacey Espe RDH
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