Advancing Patient Care Through the Use of OraRisk® HPV Salivary Testing: An Interview with Camille Luke

Dr. McGlennen: Tell me how and why you utilize OralDNA® salivary diagnostics.

Camille RDH: Currently we use the OraRisk® HPV test in 5 different dental practices.  Our team members use this test as part of our oral cancer screening process.  At a continuing education course, we were introduced to the correlation between HPV and oral cancer, and felt this would be an important service to provide for our patients, especially with the increased risk of developing oral cancer associated with a persistent HPV infection.

Our teams are extremely excited to introduce more salivary tests, like for periodontal pathogens but as a team we decided to start here, get comfortable and then add on. Our comfort level increases every day so in the near future our teams will be adding more testing services.

Dr. McGlennen: When considering a patient for OraRisk® HPV testing, how do you introduce the testing to the patient?

Camille RDH: We inform the patients we are doing something different today; we have added an additional service to our oral cancer screening.  We educate them about the increased risk of developing oral cancer if there is a sustained elevated level of HPV in the oral cavity.  We emphasize the person’s immune response and the body’s ability to keep things in check. Occasionally there will be elevated HPV levels that remain high for an extended period of time and if we identify these persistent infections, our teams need to be more diligent with other screening methods.

Dr. McGlennen: What are the biggest benefits of utilizing salivary diagnostics?

Camille RDH: We feel that using salivary diagnostics in our practice helps our patients realize our concern for their overall health.  It has elevated the level of service we provide and puts us on the leading edge of connecting oral health with their systemic health.

Dr. McGlennen: What is the benefit of having OraRisk® HPV results?

Camille RDH: The benefits of using OraRisk® HPV is that it has developed an increased awareness by our teams and our patients of the connection between HPV and oral cancer. WHY? It provides us an objective clinical laboratory result to identify the patient’s risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer.  I think it helps reinforce our commitment to providing high level care to our patients.

Dr. McGlennen: How do your patient’s respond to this technology? What is their #1 question?

Camille RDH: The patient response has been extremely positive and well received in our practices.  The number one question typically has been “What do we do if the results come back positive?”

Dr. McGlennen: What is your biggest challenge?

Camille RDH: The biggest challenge is internal for our clinicians, as some struggle with talking to patients about sexually transmitted diseases. However, this challenge lessens every day, as we step away from being dental professionals and steps towards being oral healthcare providers. There is a professional responsibility to provide this type of service to their patients.

Dr. McGlennen: If a new OralDNA® provider were to ask you for advice, what would be your best tip?

Camille RDH: If they were looking to incorporate OraRisk® HPV into their practice, role-playing is key. I would tell them to get comfortable talking about the screening with their teammates, and do some role-playing to be prepared for questions that might come up.  The most important piece is to just jump in and do it.  If you wait for just the right time, you may never get started.

Dr. McGlennen: Where do you see salivary diagnostics in 3-5 years? 10 years? What would be the impact on your practice/patients?

Camille RDH: In the next 3-5 years I see salivary diagnostics becoming a great tool in connecting the oral systemic link for our patients.  Over the next 10 years, I believe it will be the standard of care and bring collaboration with the medical community to a whole new level. The impact on our patients will be improved health and wellness.  As our teams continue to incorporate salivary diagnostics as part of our standard protocols I think we will see continued growth, especially with the changing demographics. As our patient base grows older, there will be more of a demand for services that address risk factors for development of future disease and salivary diagnostics will be a key piece to assessing risk and providing comprehensive and customized patient care.

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Camille Luke RDH MSDH