- Last Updated: 08 November 2015 08 November 2015
Turning to saliva as a diagnostic tool
Saliva is often described by researchers and doctors as a mirror of the body and its well-being. It contains valuable diagnostic biomarkers which can help to screen for periodontal and other oral diseases, various cancers, systemic illnesses, and other conditions.
Other benefits of saliva-based tests are that they are less invasive and are rapid and cost-effective ways to screen for illness or detect early signs of illness.
Saliva analysis has been used, in some capacity, over the past 20 years to evaluate various medical problems; however, the field of research specifically devoted to disease detection and surveillance is called salivary diagnostics.
An investment made by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) in saliva analysis over ten years ago, has generated significant advancement in salivary diagnostics. The NIDCR research initiative funded salivary diagnostic technology development at several research centers across the United States.
This research has led to discovery and development of a "diagnostic toolbox"— identification of components in human saliva, with biomarker profiles which can be used in the diagnosis of disease. (Source: A Primer on Salivary Diagnostics, published by the American Dental Association).