Your saliva plays many important roles in your mouth. It keeps your mouth moist. It aids in the early stages of digesting, helping to break food down and making it easier to swallow. It aids in killing bacteria and washing it away. Saliva neutralizes acids to keep your mouth at a balanced pH. Your saliva also contains DNA information. At Whole Health Dentistry, we can use your saliva for biological testing, which enables us to test for periodontal disease.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a serious oral health condition that affects your gums, your jawbone, and your overall health. When it first starts, however, you might never even know that it is there. As it progresses, your gums begin to pull away from your teeth, leading to the formation of periodontal pockets. Over time, the pockets grow deeper, and the bacteria reach your jawbone. There, the bacteria begin attacking the bone, which causes it to grow weak. Your teeth may become loose and fall out. Bacteria can even enter into your bloodstream and lead to serious issues like heart disease and diabetes.
What is Biological Testing?
Biological testing, also called salivary testing, is an FDA regulated diagnostic tool. It allows us to look at the DNA in your saliva to diagnose periodontal disease and other oral and overall health issues. However, how is this possible. Your saliva contains biomarkers. These are traceable substances. Certain biomarkers are linked to certain conditions, allowing for diagnosis.
Some types of saliva tests are genetic tests. This means that the DNA in your saliva is used to diagnose or predict disease. Saliva may be used to make a firm diagnosis when you are exhibiting symptoms of a specific oral health issue. Biological testing can also be used as a way to predict your likelihood of developing periodontal disease and other conditions before the issue develops.
Why is the Saliva Important?
In addition to protecting your mouth, your saliva can also be seen as a mirror to your health. It contains proteins, as well as a certain amount of biochemicals that are also present in your blood. Both the proteins and the biochemicals can be linked to different types of conditions, including periodontal disease, allowing us to determine their presence or your risk for developing them.
Benefits of Biological Testing
There are several significant benefits to biological testing. These benefits include:
- Providing you with an alternative to the traditional blood test. Rather than drawing blood, all we need to do is take a swab of saliva. This can be an incredible relief for patients who have a fear of needles or blood.
- More affordable than blood testing.
- Faster turnaround times. Results of biological testing are rapid, allowing you to get the treatment you need right away.
- Assessing your risk for developing periodontal disease. When we know your risk for periodontal disease, we can formulate an appropriate treatment plan that will help to protect the health of your mouth, as well as reduce your risk for developing serious issues like heart disease and diabetes.
- Determining the presence of biological markers that put you at risk for inflammation, which can make periodontal disease and other issues worse.
- Determining the presence of HPV. We can also determine which strain of HPV it is. Certain strains of HPV increase your risk of developing oral cancer.
Using biological testing, we can determine the presence of periodontal disease, as well as other oral and overall health issues, before symptoms occur. For more information, contact Whole Health Dentistry at (503) 233-5825 today.