Like other DNA tests, Bristle’s test can be taken from home and is non-invasive — only requiring a saliva sample. Unlike other DNA tests that look at your genome, Bristle analyzes the oral microbiome. The oral microbiome is the community of microbes (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) living in your mouth. The balance between pathogenic and beneficial microbes can contribute to your risk of oral disease or signal systemic conditions. Bristle identifies and quantifies all of the microbes in your mouth — over 150 different types of bacteria on average.
Cavities and gum disease — the two most prevalent oral diseases (which combined are the most prevalent diseases in the world) — are infections, driven by an overabundance of specific disease-causing (“pathogenic”) microbes. Pathogenic microbes produce harmful byproducts like acid, which erodes the enamel of your teeth leading to decay. We detect the earliest signs of these bacteria before they have the opportunity to grow and cause damage. Earlier detection enables interventions that exist but are currently underutilized, providing non-invasive and inexpensive treatments for patients when they are most effective in preventing and treating disease.
Most technologies and companies looking into the microbiome using a method called 16s sequencing, which only provides the identification and relative abundance of bacteria at low resolution (genus-level). Think of this as a database of fingerprints and names — you know who is there and could identify them at any given time — but that’s about all you can do.
Our test sequences the whole genome of all microbes in a sample. This method provides us with a few extra layers of information:
Why does it matter? This is important because fungi and viruses also can play a role in health and disease. Without knowing all of the microbes present, you may be missing out on important information.
Why does it matter? Two species or strains of bacteria can belong to the same genus but have vastly different effects on our health. For example, while most strains of E. coli are harmless, we are all familiar with the strain related to food poisoning. Without knowing which strain is in your microbiome, you can get ambiguous results.
Going back to our fingerprint analogy, our test is more like having a database with everyones’ name, fingerprint, contact information, picture, and what they do for a living. The extra information provides more accurate results and accelerates discoveries into the oral microbiome — including connections to different diseases and the development of more effective oral care products.
We invest in the best technology available because it allows us to make better products for our users. As our database grows, our discovery-making potential grows too. Every new user is contributing to advancements in oral health!