Last time Ben went for a dental checkup his dentist collected samples of plaque from his mouth and sent it to the lab for a microbial test for gum disease. Ben had never before heard of this test.
Just as your doctor may recommend blood tests to help detect health problems, your doctor, dentist or dental hygienist can now recommend testing to determine whether your gums are healthy. Soon, these tests will be part of our regular checkups.
New scientific advances now enable us to screen people for the risk or presence of gum disease. Called a microbial (or oral bacteria or biofilm) analysis, this is a simple, painless and effective test that analyzes the bacteria in the mouth. The dentist or dental hygienist swabs your teeth and tongue and sends these samples to a laboratory. They are analyzed for bacteria that cause oral infection. The lab sends a report with information on the amounts of bacteria in the samples to the dentist or dental hygienist who uses this information to decide whether treatment is necessary, and if so, what type of treatment will work best.
Ben's test results showed that he had early gum disease. His dentist prescribed an antibiotic rinse that cleared up the problem within a couple of weeks.
Next time you visit a dental professional, ask whether you're at risk for gum disease and whether you should be tested.