Up Your Oral Health Game with Salivary Testing: Part 1

Aren’t you tired of the same old drill and fill, pumice-pushing lecture about tooth decay, flossing, and bleeding gums?  Yet, patients still come back infected and full of plaque.  All our great suggestions are for naught.  We keep lecturing, hoping for different results.  It becomes discouraging and frustrating for our patients and leads to burnout and career changes for us.  On top of that – despite all of our efforts, all of our breath, and all of our floss – periodontal disease is still one of the most common diseases in the world.1  We need to prevent and/or heal this infection, not allow it to simmer and continue to infect people.  It is time for a paradigm shift!

American Academy of Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH)

I had the honor and privilege to speak to fellow dental hygienists and dentists at the recent AAOSH Health Scientific Congress in Nashville, TN.  My presentation reviewed what I, as a biological hygienist, do differently in my dental hygiene and periodontal therapy appointments.

Biologically Minded

I have been a dental hygienist for almost 40 years, and I still love my profession.  I work in a biological dental office, Green City Dental in Edmonds, Washington, and while I do many “traditional” hygiene duties, I do them with a twist.  Since 1985, I have used a phase contrast microscope chairside to view the pathogens of every single patient, and at every re-care appointment.  Without that tool, I would have left dentistry – it rescued me from my burnout and helped me fall back in love with my profession.  Seeing the spirochetes in action right there on the screen cements the disease in my mind and makes it real for my patients.

Caries testing, ozone therapy, nutritional counseling, orofacial myofunctional therapy, and Bio-Botanicals® are some of the more unique tools in my biological toolbox used for the challenge of shifting the microbiome towards health. Each patient is unique and requires a customized path to wellness.  I want each of my patients to heal, but more than that, I want to inspire other professionals to join me in finding the true cause of oral disease and not just address symptoms.

Step Up to Testing

Dentistry has treated dental hygiene as a cosmetic event every six months.  A twice a year debridement and floss lecture is not enough to change the microbiome towards health.  Let’s move that to the past.  We need to look deeper into the mouth, and dental hygienists need to look up from their prophy cups and be the pivotal healthcare provider we are trained to be. We must sleuth out the causes and risk factors to prevent and reverse oral diseases before they do permanent damage not just to the mouth but to the entire body.

Not every office has a microscope, but every office can still test for the oral pathogens, as well as assess the patient’s genetic risk level.  Salivary diagnostics fills that role in a big way.  OralDNA® is at the forefront of this testing.  It is a quick and very easy test to do at the start of the appointment and it gives us so much information to move forward towards healing and prevention. Next week, Part 2 will explore more of the why it is so important to step up your game.

References:

1.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331466973_Association_between_periodontal_pathogens_and_systemic_disease

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

Barbara Tritz RDH

Barbara Tritz RDH

Barbara Tritz RDH, BS, MSB is a registered dental hygienist with over 40 years of clinical experience.She practices in the office of Green City Dental in Edmonds, Washington.She is also owner of Washington Oral Wellness in Kirkland, WA and is a practicing orofacial myofunctional therapist.She is a guest lecturer and paid dental hygiene consultant.Barbara received her dental hygiene degree from Onondaga Community College, a Bachelor of Science in dental auxiliary teacher education from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Master of Science in business from Husson University in Bangor Maine.She continued her training in myofunctional therapy from the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy in Los Angeles.
Barbara’s passion for all things dental spilled over to creating a blog, Queen of Dental Hygiene.net.There you can find all manner of oral health and wellness information- from unique ways to prevent cavities and gum disease, to airway health, sleep disordered breathing, and even how to smile.She is committed to lifelong learning and is currently working to master perioscopy and pursuing laser therapy training.Barbara enjoys sharing her knowledge with school children, patients, as well as other health professionals.She encourages all her clients to look beyond the toothbrush/ floss lectures and find the why to their dental problems.She won the 2019 Hufriedy-ADHA Master Clinician Award this past June at the annual ADHA Conference in Louisville, Ky.Barbara can be contacted at barbaratritz@gmail.com.
Barbara Tritz RDH

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