Dr. McGlennen: Please tell me how you use OralDNA® salivary diagnostics in your practice.
Ben Mendoza RDH: OralDNA® salivary diagnostics is the most applicable tool we use at Dr. Katherine Brown’s practice in order to guide our patients toward optimal oral care as well as total health well-being. We use this testing to help identify, confirm, and convey both the risk and presence of bacterial pathogens that increase patients’ potential for tooth decay and gum disease, as well as any negative impacts concerning their overall health.
Dr. McGlennen: What are the top two things you consider when selecting a patient for testing?
Ben Mendoza RDH: I truly feel that all patients, not just a select number, are eligible for testing because it helps us detect potentially harmful bacteria, which upon identification can lead to the implementation of preventive care measures. I say that all patients are candidates because we don’t know the makeup of one’s oral biofilm based on observing traditional clinical signs. If you use traditional clinical signs, the disease has usually progressed to the point that bone and supporting structure is damaged.
By employing this method of testing with patients early on, as we do in our practice, we can begin to shift from dental care that is reactive to one that proactively applies true preventative measures.
Dr. McGlennen: What do you see as the biggest benefits to using salivary diagnostics in your practice?
Ben Mendoza RDH: I always tell each of my patients that when it comes to their health, they are the C.E.O. and I am merely one of the managers they have employed to help oversee their best care. Therefore, salivary testing allows each “C.E.O.” to take ownership as active participants in their care. Test results provide the biggest benefit of personally witnessing bacterial pathogens that may be active in their saliva. Observing such, offers patients a tangible representation of one of the risks that can affect both their oral and overall health.
Dr. McGlennen: What is your favorite part of the MyPerioPath® results report? Why?
Ben Mendoza RDH: The clear, concise MyPerioPath® result report and how it helps give our patients an unbiased opinion on what has been detected. Additionally, the lab results back up the language we use in our practice: “What is seen within the mouth has a direct effect on the rest of the body.” This becomes an epiphany moment for our patients and is a great primer in helping them understand that the recommended care is the most paramount measure for their personal case.
Dr. McGlennen: How do your patients respond to this technology?
Ben Mendoza RDH: From my experience, patient response to salivary testing has been incredibly positive. It builds an additional layer of confidence in the care they receive from our practice. Patients are amazed that this type of technology exists and a common (albeit unanswerable!) inquiry they often pose is, “How come my former dentist never offered this?”
Dr. McGlennen: What is your biggest challenge? How do you overcome that obstacle?
Ben Mendoza RDH: Several patients have concerns with the cost. It is my philosophy to never try to sell a patient on the service; I simply provide the facts and allow them to choose for themselves. I have found that in-depth provider/patient communication is what breaks down any trepidation associated with “the unknown.” Once a patient and I have a detailed conversation about the process and benefits of this particular testing, in addition to how valuable its results are for their subsequent treatment, the dialogue begins to shift and in the majority of my cases, they agree to it.
Dr. McGlennen: If a new OralDNA® provider were to ask you for advice, what would your best tip be?
Ben Mendoza RDH: My primary recommendation would be to not hesitate in offering this service to their patients and to have that open and detailed conversation with them; the worst they can say is “no.” However, when the time is taken to educate them with the proper information, most patients’ responses will result in a “yes.”
A secondary bit of advice would be to never pressure anyone to commit to the testing, and to support them in their decision, regardless of what it may be. This form of affirmation may change the outcome of any succeeding conversation regarding salivary diagnostic testing, or any other recommended testing and/or treatments to come.
Dr. McGlennen: Where do you see salivary diagnostics in 3-5 years? 10 years? What would be the impact on your practice/patients?
Ben Mendoza RDH: I believe the correct inquiry is: “Where won’t we see salivary diagnostics in 3-5 years/within the decade? Moreover, how can we not make use of this effective tool when it makes room for such vast advantages in caring for our patients?” I affirm that this type of testing allows oral healthcare providers to offer the apropos 21st century care in an industry that seems to be flooded by a sea of not-so-current methods. To further articulate this point, most of the treatment options currently available are what I consider to be “broad spectrum.” Take for example the existence of pocketing or clinical attachment loss, the reactive “treatment” response tends to be something relative to: “Well, let’s do a round of scaling and root planing and see if that helps.” However, because of the avail of salivary diagnostics, what we know now is that these damages can be stimulated by other factors: Is it bacterial, genetic, or systemic? Is it bite force related or due to lack of personal care? Or, is it a combination of all the aforementioned? Clearly salivary testing assists us to centralize the causative factor(s), and based upon those findings, we can construct a more specific evidence-based treatment plan of action.
In sum, OralDNA® salivary diagnostics is the future of the dental healthcare industry’s present. No longer will we be forced to rely solely on conventional clinical signs that reveal an existing disease process already causing irreparable damage. Ultimately, salivary testing greatly assists oral healthcare providers in executing authentic proactive and preventive care for the benefit of patients’ overall comprehensive health.
**To learn more about becoming an OralDNA Provider: Text “OralDNA” to 71441**
Benjamin Mendoza began his career in dentistry over 21 years ago while he served as both a dental assistant and laboratory technician. During these initial stages of his occupation, he quickly started to hone his understanding of the science and technology associated with delivering dental care. Shortly after, Benjamin chose to further advance his professional portfolio by pursuing dental hygiene because he saw it as an excellent opportunity to further assist patients in achieving better overall health and wellness.
Since earning an associate degree in Dental Hygiene from Carrington College, Benjamin has actively sought rigorous educational opportunities including extensive courses with the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health and Orognathic Bioesthetic Institute. He is well-versed in CAMBRA decay prevention strategies, LASER periodontal therapy, DNA and PCR risk assessment, the Perio Protect® Method, hygiene instrumentation, and the whole-health ramifications of periodontal disease. Every year, Benjamin continues to take field-related coursework, staying abreast of the most current methods and technologies that assist him in providing the utmost in patient care.
When he isn’t assisting his patients, Benjamin spends quality time with his wife, Chelsie, a middle school English teacher and son, Benjamin, Junior who is one year away from university. In his spare time, Benjamin enjoys working out, holds a black belt in jiu jitsu, and serves in ministry empowering families with the essential tools needed to maintain healthy relationships with one another.