Interview with Charissa Wood, RDH

Dr McGlennen: Tell me how you use OralDNA® salivary diagnostics.

Charissa Wood RDH: At Atlanta Dental Spa, we utilize OralDNA® salivary diagnostics to help our patients achieve optimal oral health. We take a complete health approach to our patients’ care and salivary diagnostics helps us assess our patients’ genetic predispositions to inflammation as well as the perio-pathogen load levels. OralDNA® lab reports allow us to truly tailor patient care based off the information we get from testing. We can determine the best long-term recall frequency based on genetic inflammatory risk. Also, we can know with certainty whether a periodontal infection is significant enough to enlist systemic antibiotics into therapy. Testing gives us true measurables when it comes to active periodontal disease. This allows us to treat the infection specifically (not based on clinical signs alone) and see the efficacy of our therapies through follow up testing.

We find that patients who have struggled with halitosis for a long time are great candidates for salivary testing to check if there are underlying pathogens contributing to their breath issues. We’ve also been able to help several of our patients detect yeast overgrowth and direct them to their physicians to get it under control and back to health and wellness.  We utilize the OraRisk® HPV test when we have patients who are concerned about being exposed to the human papilloma virus (HPV). Based on these lab results, we have been able to set up an oral cancer screening recall to monitor their oral health and catch changes early, if any.

Dr McGlennen: What are the top two things to consider when you select a patient for testing?

Charissa Wood RDH: Ideally, we would love for all our patients to be tested, because what you don’t know can hurt you in this case. However, not all our patients are open to testing quite yet. There are three categories of patients that we strongly recommend testing:

  1. Patients with significant medical history concerns that are showing clinical signs of periodontal disease.
  2. Patients that present with chronic halitosis affecting their day-to-day lives.
  3. Pregnant patients or patients trying to become pregnant.

Dr McGlennen: What are the biggest benefits to using salivary diagnostics?

Charissa Wood RDH: The biggest benefit to using salivary diagnostics is truly knowing what we are facing when it comes to the oral infection – whether it be bacterial, viral or fungal. It’s also super helpful to know not only what is present, but the actual quantity and how our patient is genetically wired to respond to what is present. It’s awesome to know which antibiotic will specifically target the infection!

Dr McGlennen: What is your favorite part of the MyPerioPath® results? Why?

Charissa Wood RDH:  My favorite part of the results is the way they are laid out visually. When a patient can see for themselves the presence and severity of the pathogens present as well as the systemic impact those specific pathogens can have on their overall health, it becomes a problem they want to solve. It creates a team approach to treatment because they can see what is happening in their own mouth; therefore, they are much more willing to follow through with recommended therapies as well as home care regimens. It brings awareness, ownership and accountability to the patient!

Dr McGlennen: How do your patients respond to this technology? What is their #1 question?

Charissa Wood RDH: Our patients are impressed by this technology. Often, they are surprised by the results. They understand the concept based off what they’ve seen in the medical community (think testing for strep throat or flu) and like that they can see improvement through true measurables. I’d say the number one question we get is “how did I get this” or “where did this come from?” It opens the door to educate about periodontal disease but also provides encouragement for therapy.

Dr McGlennen: What is your biggest challenge? How do you overcome that obstacle?

Charissa Wood RDH:  I’d say the biggest challenge is cost to the patient – but that’s typical in dentistry for most procedures. I don’t see a huge barrier once I educate the patient on why I need the information and show them a sample test result so they can understand what we are looking for. I think patients are open to diagnostics that will help us tailor treatment and care.

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

Charissa Wood RDH: Learn about it, understand it, get comfortable with the process and how to read the results and then go for it! Create some verbiage and have some sample test results on hand to share with your patients. We are here to provide the best care for our patients and salivary diagnostics are a big part of that! The team at OralDNA® is amazing at helping with understanding test results and what tests to use in different circumstances, so use them when needed until you are more comfortable with the process. And as to the process of obtaining the patient sample, loading it up online and sending it off – I don’t think it could be easier!

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

Charissa Wood RDH: Complete health for our patients is what we strive for. I see salivary diagnostics being able to bridge so many gaps in the future! The current research out on the oral systemic connection is so telling in the story of “our mouth really is the gateway to the rest of our body!” I hope that salivary diagnostics will help to marry dentistry to general medicine, oncology, obstetrics, endocrinology, etc. and help all medical professionals work together to achieve true health and wellness for our patients! I have a hunch that in the future, we will be able to diagnose specific systemic diseases with salivary diagnostics as the first step and more importantly, based off salivary genetic testing, prevent those same diseases to create true wellness!

**To learn more about becoming an OralDNA Provider: Text “OralDNA” to 31996**

Charissa Wood RDH

Charissa Wood RDH

Charissa graduated from Dekalb College in Dunwoody, Georgia with an associate degree in 1996. She has been practicing for 23 years and absolutely loves the oral systemic connection. Her continuing education has helped her patients by empowering them to take charge of their own health and wellness. Her moto is “When we truly care for our patients then it shows up in our production”. She performs assisted hygiene and have been one of the top producers in the field for the past five years. She has guest lectured at several conferences on patient care and treatment enrollment and has done private consulting to help practices implement team culture, thoroughness in patient care and implementation of new technologies. She has been married for 23 years with two amazing teen boys! She is active in her church and community and serves as a mentor/leader to a group of high school girls. When not working, you can find her doing anything outdoors, spending time with friends and family and cooking healthy foods!
Charissa Wood RDH

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