Who wouldn't want to be able to predict the future? Well, that's exactly what certain genetic tests are promising dentists on the cutting edge of preventative treatment. For clinicians placing implants, knowing if a patient is predisposed to the kind of inflammatory reactions that cause peri-implantitis and periodontal disease could be a vital piece of information to influence whether to use a cover screw versus healing cap, or whether immediate loading would be a good idea.
Genetic testing can reveal a predisposition to a wide variety of oral concerns. Some people congenitally overproduce Interleukin-1, leading to excessive inflammation, or underproduce amelogenin, leading to reduced enamel hardness. A whole host of different genes and hormones can contribute to reduced bone density or arrested remodeling of bone tissue, which could inform decisions about how many implants to place at once, the length of the healing process, and whether socket grafting is indicated for extraction sites.
The dental industry is moving toward greater personalization of patient care, with the goal of ensuring better long term health through proactive approaches, and genetic testing could be the next step in this trend. It is affordable and easier than ever to implement, requiring only simple cheek swabs that can be administered in-office or even done at the patient's home before the appointment, saving time and reducing the number of necessary appointments.
Furthermore, genetic testing can educate patients and encourage them to be proactive about their oral health. Identifying such problems as predisposition to inflammation might coax a patient to make a point out of flossing over lunch break at work, while an amelogenin deficiency could persuade some patients to swear off soda and energy drinks. In this age of information knowledge is power, and a little extra knowledge of what the future might hold benefits patient and practitioner alike!
Genetic test kits are manufactured by companies like OralDNA Labs, InterLeukin Genetics, and others.
Kornman, K., PhD. (2016, November 4). Genetic risk testing could help personalize preventive dental care. Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/2016/11/genetic-risk-testing-could-h...