The Oral DNA test

Dr. Lee Sheldon

One of my favorite tests in dentistry is the Oral DNA test. This is a saliva test that allows me to understand what bacteria is growing in a patient’s mouth so I can better decide how to treat that patient’s periodontal disease.

It’s clear that there’s a link between periodontal disease and many other diseases in the body include heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease, and literally every other chronic disease that has been studied. Most periodontal diseases are caused by bacteria. If we can identify the specific bacteria that populates the periodontal pocket, we are in a better position to control the periodontal disease.

I’ve taught in this forum the types of periodontal treatment that are available. The type of periodontal treatment that we prefer is the use of a camera which goes below the gum line so that we can see the accumulation of bacteria on the root and thoroughly remove it.  The hard, calcified bacteria that we see and remove with the help of the endoscope is called calculus.

But it is the soft bacteria growing within the pocket that is the larger problem. Some types of that bacteria invade the tissues. It’s helpful to know what bacteria is growing in the periodontal pockets so that we prescribe the antibiotic that is best to kill that bacteria. The Oral DNA test allows us to do that. It’s a very simple test to run. You rinse with water and spit into a cup. Your periodontist or dentist then sends the sample to the laboratory. In about a week, you find out which of the eleven periodontal pathogens are in your mouth.  

By knowing your bacterial composition, you have an improved opportunity to cure your periodontal disease and reduce other health risks as well.