The Puzzle of Periodontal Disease

As children, we are constantly exploring to see how things work. We are given books to explore what others have learned and puzzles help us to see how things fit together. As a dental hygienist, I use the puzzle analogy often when referring to periodontal disease. As oral health care professionals, we are trying to put pieces together to resolve or at minimum reduce the patient’s inflammation. To do so in a timely manner, we need to know as many of the pieces as possible. We all know the frustration of reaching the end of a puzzle, only to realize you don’t have all the pieces.

Just like puzzles, periodontal disease has varying pieces ranging in size and complexity. In other words, periodontal disease is multi-factorial. Addressing only one factor, such as the periodontal bacteria, can lead to incomplete therapy.

One piece to the puzzle, you may already be addressing and not even realizing it, is the medical history review. For example, if the patient indicates that are taking Metformin, this is a red flag for Type II diabetes and the patient is therefore at an increased risk for periodontal inflammation. The patient’s lifestyle, such as smoking status, nutrition and stress levels all need to be considered too, as these can increase periodontal inflammation and can hinder the patient’s healing.

If the goal of putting the pieces together is to reduce inflammation, then knowing as many of these answers should get us to that goal faster. With the introduction of salivary diagnostics testing, we are now able to get concrete answers with a simple, non-invasive, swish and gargle.  Alert 2™ is a combination of the pathogenic bacterial analysis, MyPerioPath®, and the genetic host response, MyPerioID ® IL-6. With this test, you get two answers to the periodontal puzzle through one test order. If the Alert 2™ results do not reveal the cause of inflammation, then other tests can be ordered to rule in or rule out other causes. These additional tests could include OraRisk® Candida, OraRisk® HSV and Celsus One™.  Remember, add on tests can be ordered anytime within the 21 day collection window. No need to collect a second specimen!

Periodontal disease can be complicated, but it doesn’t need to be frustrating.  Salivary diagnostics can help identify those missing puzzle pieces and help solve your next periodontal puzzle!

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Diane Larson RDH, BSDH