Saliva -- it's more than just spit! Saliva is the watery fluid that moistens our mouths, helping us eat, speak, and maintain good oral health. Saliva consists of a clear, protein-rich fluid secreted by the salivary glands and trace amounts of various biochemicals present in blood serum that filter into the mouth. As certain health conditions arise, such as HIV infection and cancer, proteins and substances linked to these diseases can pass from the serum into the saliva. Increased concentrations of these compounds over time make saliva a potentially promising diagnostic fluid with several advantages over blood. Saliva is easy to collect, requires no painful needle sticks, and can be tested in many non-traditional settings because of the portability and lower cost of salivary test kits.
Technologies that will enable saliva to be used as a window into the body are being explored for their ability to detect disease and monitor our health. Efforts are underway to develop miniaturized lab-on-a-chip technology, where diagnostic tests and tools are made to be rapid, automated, and portable. Combined with saliva sample collection or cell collection (by gentle brushing of the skin surface), this technology could eliminate the need for blood sampling or mouth tissue biopsy, in many cases.
Building on this research, saliva will become a more commonly used diagnostic fluid. Ongoing studies indicate that saliva may be useful for detecting various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, periodontal diseases, and other conditions.
At Schenck Family Dental, we utilize all modern technology and research to ensure that you are getting the best dental treatment possible. Schedule your visit today!