In order for chairside diagnostic testing to make an impact on dental therapy, practitioners require a better understanding of genetic mutations contributing to the pathophysiology of periodontal disease. Commensal and pathogenic bacterial colonization in oral cavity tissues produces a cascade of proinflammatory signaling pathways ultimately detrimental to host tissues. Resolving inflammation is a multifactorial process involving the downregulation of proinflammatory cytokines while allowing commensal bacterial levels to return to normal. Because of the complicated nature of commensal bacteria and oral health homeostasis, the emphasis of dental therapy should place renewed focus on limiting destructive inflammation rather than solely eliminating bacteria. Salivary diagnostics are an easy, non-invasive way to assess inflammatory markers. Inflammatory cytokine levels can help determine the subclinical health of a patient, showing the transition from health to gingivitis, or periodontitis, prior to clinical presentation. Single nucleotide polymorphism mutations can aid in determining increased risk of developing periodontitis. Taken together, and alongside regular clinical evaluations, chairside diagnostics help individualize treatment plans to slow, or halt, the progression of disease—before tissue destruction can take place. While more studies are needed analyzing specific mutations across periodontal categories, chairside diagnostics present an exciting adjunct to improve patient care.
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