Salivary Diagnostics for Gum Disease and Oral Cancer Risk Assessment

Clinical laboratory testing is a common practice for the medical professional. DNA testing, including genetic testing, has led to healthier patients. Cross over to dentistry, and let’s review 2 examples of what’s available. Presently, in my office, we perform MyPerioID® IL-6, a test for the genetic marker interleukin 6 (IL-6) to screen for genetic risk of periodontal disease and a viral DNA test for the human papilloma virus (HPV) to screen for risk of oral cancer.  The collection is relatively simple and painless, and both tests can be ordered from a single sample collection. No needles, no drills, no blood. Just swish and gargle with the lab provided saline solution and spit into a test tube. One week later, your results are in.

So why is this important? Well, if you have a genetic variation of the IL-6 gene for risk of periodontal (gum) disease, you really don’t want to postpone periodontal care. Losing teeth is never a good thing (can’t smile and can’t eat) and it will be expensive to replace missing teeth with implants or dentures. I feel it is best to diagnose and treat periodontal disease before it is symptomatic to prevent it from manifesting.

As for the OraRisk® HPV test, it is good to know which HPV type(s) of the 51 strains tested you may have because there could be an increased risk of developing oral cancer. Knowing your HPV status allows your dental professional to determine if you need to have an oral cancer exam more frequently.

According to a new study published November 21, 2017 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, nationwide rates for oral HPV infections are 11.5% of men and 3.2% of women. That’s 11 million men compared with 3.2 million women. That means that about one in nine American men is infected with the oral form of human papillomavirus (HPV).  Oral cancer occurs more frequently than most other common cancers. Due to late diagnosis, about half of the nearly 50,000 patients diagnosed every year with oral cancer in the U.S. will die of their disease.

For my office, this clinical laboratory testing is an approach to holistic, preventive health care and aids in patient education.  Keep in mind that nearly all oral diseases develop to late stages with minimal or no pain until they are quite advanced. This includes tooth decay, periodontal disease, and oral cancer. The only positive way to impact this devastating outcome is with yearly physical examination of the oral cavity, head, and neck including a salivary test to better assess your risk. The analysis may just save your life.

For more information on how to become an OralDNA Provider – scan HERE: 

Idelle S. Brand DDS, ND
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