Dr. McGlennen: Tell me how you were introduced to OralDNA® salivary diagnostics.
Jessie RDH: A fellow hygienist and friend of mine had used salivary diagnostics in her practice and she introduced me to the concept a few years ago. She knew how tuned in I was to the concept of the oral- systemic link, so I was immediately excited when she told me about OralDNA® Labs’ testing. I felt it was important for me to learn more because I wanted to do the best for my patients. Providing salivary diagnostic tests was a way to unlock new information to help me provide tailored care and improve patient treatment outcomes.
Dr. McGlennen: What are the top two things to consider when you select a patient for testing?
Jessie RDH: As I have learned more about the body and the systemic connection, it has become increasingly important for me to know what pathogens I am working against. If a patient has either a history of a specific condition or a family history of a specific disease, I will always advocate for testing to help the patient understand what they are up against so that they can make informed decisions, which puts them in control of their health. Additionally, I would consider testing the patient if they have had a previously failed periodontal treatment outcome. I am so fortunate to have many alternative and holistic treatment modalities at my fingertips to incorporate with my periodontal therapy procedures.
Dr. McGlennen: What are the biggest benefits to using salivary diagnostics?
Jessie RDH: I think the biggest benefit of using salivary diagnostics is the information you obtain about the patient. The test will tell me the specific bacterial profile of the patient, along with recommendations for antibiotics and other treatment modalities that fit the specific profile of the patient. With this information, my patients have improved therapy outcomes from their periodontal care. Salivary diagnostics also allows the patient to take ownership of their condition. In order for any therapy to be successful, the patient must be a partner in their care. Using salivary diagnostics also allows for interprofessional collaboration with the patient’s physician and care team. Lastly, using salivary diagnostics sets my practice apart from other dental practices in my area. Patients who are introduced to this technology are impressed because they have never experienced anything like it in other dental offices they have been to in the past. I also get referrals from other patients because of the high level of care that I provide.
Dr. McGlennen: What is your favorite part of the MyPerioPath® results? Why?
Jessie RDH: My favorite part of the MyPerioPath® results are that they are easy for both my patient and me to read and understand. There is a lot of information within this two-page report, and it is easily digestible. I also like the clarity of the oral-systemic connection.
Dr. McGlennen: How do your patients respond to this technology? What is their #1 question?
Jessie RDH: Overall the patients have responded very well. When they receive their results, they are surprised to learn about the types of pathogens they have, how the pathogens increase their risk factors for diseases, and how their overall health is affected. The results also allow the patient to take ownership of their condition. Their #1 question is typically “How do I get better?” When they ask this question, I know they have become more engaged in their care, and they start taking their dental hygiene visits more seriously.
Dr. McGlennen: What is your biggest challenge? How do you overcome that obstacle?
Jessie RDH: The biggest challenge with doing the diagnostics was not seeing ideal results of perio therapy after retesting the patient. I quickly realized that I needed to learn more and improve my treatment approach. I took more courses, specifically in holistic dentistry, and I was able to learn more about alternative adjunctive treatment modalities to scaling and root planing. Armed with this new information, I was able to create a holistic treatment protocol for my NSPT cases and I’m now getting the results that I want. My patients are getting better because I took the time to improve my own knowledge. I guess you could say that performing the salivary diagnostic was a gateway to learning new things.
Dr. McGlennen: If a new OralDNA® provider were to ask you for advice, what would be your best tip?
Jessie RDH: Just do it and don’t be afraid of the unknown. You may not know everything now, but you will learn a lot along the way. With each test you do, new information comes to light, and every time it will provide you with the opportunity to learn more. Whether it be learning about a specific pathogen, a disease, or a new treatment tool, using these diagnostics allows you the opportunity to grow professionally and really expand your knowledge base.
With all the data supporting the oral-systemic link, we can’t ignore using this valuable diagnostic tool. If we don’t do it then we are not practicing up to our highest standards, we underserve the patient, and we fail to improve population health as a whole. We also miss the valuable opportunities to collaborate with other health care professionals and stand up for how valuable the profession of dental hygiene is. When we collaborate with other health care professionals, we instill the value of both oral and whole-body wellness and improve patient care outcomes.
Dr. McGlennen: Where do you see salivary diagnostics in 3-5 years? 10 years? What would be the impact on your practice/patients?
Jessie RDH: In the future, I see salivary diagnostics as being part of routine care. Just as a physician would order a diagnostic laboratory test to achieve a diagnosis and a treatment plan, a dental provider should parallel this standard. I see these tests as a way to unite the dental and medical professions to truly enhance the care we provide and improve the health of our patients.