Dr. McGlennen: You started incorporating OralDNA® testing services into your care over a year ago in Spring 2018. Tell me how you were introduced to OralDNA® salivary diagnostics and why do you use the testing services.
Pete Williams: We first became aware of the OralDNA® testing services at a Functional Medicine conference in the US. As a Functional Medicine practice, we are aware of how oral health can have a systemic effect on chronic disease and its management. We have been following the research over the past 5 years and slowly but steadily have begun to look at the health of the mouth as a window to systemic health. Having the ability to test both oral pathogens and genetics when patients present with long term gum disease is an important component of our treatment strategy, particularly with patients suffering from chronic conditions.
Dr. McGlennen: What are the top things to consider when you select a patient for testing?
Pete Williams: As part of a detailed case history, we enquire about our patient’s oral/dental health. We look for past and present signs of gum disease and consider other lifestyle risk factors such as a high sugar diet and smoking. In other words, we are looking for clinically relevant risk factors that warrant testing.
Dr. McGlennen: What are the biggest benefits to using MyPerioPath®? Celsus One™?
Pete Williams: In simple terms we “test so that we don’t guess.” Testing gives objective data allowing us to provide a more accurate analysis and strategy, both around oral health (arranging trips to the dentist/periodontist) and the potential local and systemic genetic effects.
Dr. McGlennen: What is your favorite part of the MyPerioPath® results? Why?
Pete Williams: The test has a clear threshold level and the way it is presented makes it easy for patients to understand, and for us to explain it to them. This highly visual representation also leads to greater compliance.
Dr. McGlennen: How do your patients respond to this technology? What is their #1 question?
Pete Williams: In our experience, we are finding that both our patients and their oral health professional have a limited understanding of the link between oral health and systemic health. Patients frequently ask, “Why am I doing this test?” Our response is to explain the relationship between inadequate border control, pathogenic bacteria, gum disease and the chronic disease/diseases they are presenting with. Once this has been explained to our patients their response is usually positive, particularly as the test requires little preparation and is very quick and simple to perform.
Dr. McGlennen: What is your biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
Pete Williams: Our biggest challenge is explaining to our patients why their dentist hasn’t offered this type of testing. We explain it may be that many dentists are at the moment not fully aware of the research and/or the testing that is available.
Dr. McGlennen: You represent one of our international providers, as your practice is in London. If an international provider, new to OralDNA®, were to ask you for advice what would be your best tip?
Pete Williams: I would simply recommend that they register as a provider. In our experience the process and set up has been very easy. The testing is simple to perform and despite being an international provider, the logistics have been straightforward to date.
Dr. McGlennen: From your website, you are quoted “Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century.” Regarding OralDNA® salivary diagnostics, where do you see the impact in 3-5 years? 10 years? What would be the impact on your practice/patients?
Pete Williams: The mouth is a window to the body and therefore the health of the mouth will impact the health of the body. Chronic disease medicine has come full circle in that the basics of health such as diet, stress, exercise, etc. are the number one tools in the treatment of chronic diseases. Having the added benefits of technology such as OralDNA® testing allows us to not only understand a patient’s predisposition to disease, it also gives us an objective measurement and a call to arms for patients to make lifestyle changes. We are now in the era of a systems biology approach in which we are “bringing the mouth back to the body.”
Incidentally, “bringing the mouth back to the body” is the title of my up and coming lecture at the IAOMTUK Annual Dental Conference in London in June 2019.
We have already integrated OralDNA® testing into the routine medical screening of patients in our practice, and we envision that other functional medicine & dental practices in the UK will also start using this testing in the coming years.
- Interview with Functional Medicine, International Leader Pete Williams - November 25, 2022
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- Interview with Functional Medicine Leader, Pete Williams - July 12, 2019