Did you know that periodontal or gum infections are the most common chronic infection among people in the U.S. today? It is shocking to realize that nearly two thirds of Americans over the age of 35 are suffering from some form of periodontal disease. It’s even more concerning when you consider the connection between chronic gum infections and potentially life threatening diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even some types of cancer.
Infections in the mouth not only cause bad breath and the loss of teeth, they can also contribute to ongoing and chronic health issues. As dental professionals concerned about our patient’s overall health, we are always looking for ways to diagnose and treat periodontal infections before they have a chance to cause systematic health problems, and with the new test called DNA-PCR, we are able to do just that. This test not only allows us to diagnose but also treat gum disease.
How it works
There are more than 600 different types of bacteria present in the human mouth at any given time and of those scientists have been able to identify 13 strains of the most common pathogenic bacteria which cause gum disease. We know that periodontal pathogens are opportunistic and can strike quickly when a person’s overall health is under stress. Some of the catalysts may include emotional or physical stress, hormonal imbalances, smoking, acute infections and chronic medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
Until recently periodontal disease was treated by identifying clinical signs and symptoms, a process that can take years for a patient to perceive as a problem. Now DNA-PCR uses molecular biology technology to provide a solid method of identifying the disease, giving us the tools we need to prescribe an accurate treatment before the symptoms become widespread. Using this technology we are now able to specifically identify the oral bacteria that can cause infections before they become an issue.
The test is completely painless and as simple as spitting into a cup or swabbing the cheek with a cotton swab. The sample is then prepared into a vial that is shipped to the laboratory where it is thoroughly analyzed. The results that are returned in about a week’s time detail the oral bacteria that are present, and from this report we are able to quickly and precisely diagnose and treat gum disease.
Visit your hygienist to learn more
Good oral health is imperative for overall healthfulness, and it may in fact help prevent certain systemic diseases; all good reasons to get regular checkups and cleanings. Using DNA-PRC testing to diagnose and treat periodontal disease we are able to offer our patients the best lifelong strategies for maintaining good oral health, and for preventing potentially life threatening health issues in the future.