Why I Teach Salivary Testing as a Dental Hygiene Instructor

  I am a dental hygienist and have spent most of my career in a periodontal practice. Most recently I split my time at Dr. Steven Peiser’s office and serve as a faculty member at Goodwin College in Connecticut teaching Oral Pathology to dental hygiene students. It has been so exciting to teach this course and share my knowledge and experience.  Specifically, I most enjoy teaching about the relationship of pathogenic bacteria to the oral-systemic link which is crucial to understand wh...
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Where to Start

A common dilemma among many dental practices is how to transition the hygiene department from prophylaxis to comprehensive periodontal diagnosis and treatment. Among the concerns is the perception that if we are starting something new, does that imply that up until now patient needs have been inadequately addressed? The simple solution to this dilemma is referring to the constantly evolving knowledge in healthcare. Using phrases such as “Research has shown” or “We now know” can help with the...
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Do You Speak HPV? Part 3

In my previous blog, I explored three common positive responses I’ve encountered from patients when offering a test for oral HPV and how I would respond to them.  In this blog, I will address some of the objections from patients and how I would further educate the patient about oral HPV and testing options. Patient 1: I don’t think I need that test.  I’ve never been exposed. Response 1: I understand but in case you’re ever curious, remember we have this potentially life-saving service ...
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Do You Speak HPV? Part 2

Dental clinicians have been on the front lines of oral cancer prevention and early detection for many years. We have been trained to do very thorough oral cancer exams and to use various light systems to visualize tissue changes; however, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the death rate for oral cancers has remained higher than that of many other types of cancers which we hear about routinely.1 Many studies support that the human papilloma virus (HPV) is responsible for a large number...
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Salivary Diagnostics: Your Molecular X-Ray

According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of technology is a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge. This definition rings true for the introduction of clinical laboratory testing for the health care professions. It was noted in research by the NIH, “…it was not until 1896 that the first clinical laboratory was opened, a twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot room equipped at a cost of $50 at Johns Hopkins Hospital.”1 So for over a century, ...
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My Visit to OralDNA® Labs

Have you ever wondered what happens to your patient’s saliva sample once it arrives at OralDNA® Labs?  Many PDS®-supported offices have been using OralDNA® Labs to analyze the saliva of their patients, relative to the patient’s periodontal infection.  This service gives them more information about the types and severity of a patient’s infection, which is the cause of periodontitis.  Additionally, however, it tells us something about the bacterial load and a patient’s inflammatory response, w...
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I Don’t Need That, We’re Already Getting Good Results

The enemy of optimal patient care is complacency. Why would anyone settle for good results when optimal results are so easily achieved? Put yourself in your patient’s place in the exam chair: would you then want only good enough? Patients trust their dental professionals to provide the voice in decision regarding their care. If given the choice between practicing blindly, with no information about the specific bacterial cause of their individual case of periodontal disease, and having the ba...
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Genetic Testing with OralDNA® Labs

Genetic testing refers to the analysis of human DNA, and has become commonplace in the practice of medicine. According to the National Institute of Health, in the future “genetic testing will be an important part of health care for many individuals…we will live in a time of more effective ‘personalized medicine’. Information from genetic testing will help to detect risk for disease, guide strategies for maintaining health, offer more accurate diagnosis, and guide treatment choices for a wide...
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OraRisk® Caries: Identifying Bacteria for Risk Assessment

Dental caries is defined as the progressive destruction of a tooth and is considered a major health issue in both adolescents and adults, in which reportedly 90% of the population is affected1.  Cavities are formed when acid erodes the hard tissues of the teeth (enamel, dentin and cementum). Acid is produced in the mouth when certain bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans, ferment sugars into acid.  For decades, S. mutans was believed to be the main bacteria involved in caries initiation ...
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Caries Risk Assessment Duo: The Canary System® and OraRisk® Caries

In the past, controlling or treating dental caries meant restoring all areas of decay. After which, the patient was believed to be “caries controlled” until something new developed.  We now know that this thinking is flawed.  Filling or restoring caries does not treat the disease, only its effects on the tooth.  In 2001, the National Institute of Health defined caries as a disease resulting in the destruction of tooth structure by acid forming bacteria found in dental plaque in the presence ...
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