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Oral Health Topics

Salivary Diagnostics

Key Points

  • Saliva and other oral fluids (e.g., oral mucosal cellular secretions, gingival crevicular fluid) support the health of soft and hard tissues in the oral cavity.
  • Biocomponents found in oral fluid include proteins and related molecules, nucleic acid components (e.g., human and microbial DNA, mRNA and microRNA), and endogenous and exogenous metabolites.
  • Currently, oral fluid testing by clinical laboratories for the detection of biocomponents such as specific infectious agents (e.g., HIV, HPV, HSV, Candida), drug metabolizer status, and detection of illicit drugs is generally regulated through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA
  • Challenges to the use of oral fluids for diagnostic purposes include identification of disease-specific markers, sensitivity and specificity of tests, and standardization of collection/storage of salivary samples.
  • As of August 2018, there are no FDA-approved salivary diagnostic tests for evaluating risk of periodontal disease or dental caries, or head and neck cancer.
  • Introduction
  • Oral Fluid Biocomponents
  • Testing for Salivary Biomarkers of Oral or Systemic Diseases
  • Early Evidence from Systematic Reviews for Putative Salivary Diagnostic Efficacy of Salivary Diagnostics for Oral Diseases or Diseases Affecting the Oral Cavity
  • Summary
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Additional Resources
Prepared by: Center for Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute
Reviewed by: Scientific Information Subcommittee, ADA Council on Scientific Affairs
Last Updated: August 28, 2018


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Content on the Oral Health Topics section of ADA.org is for informational purposes only. Content is neither intended to nor does it establish a standard of care or the official policy or position of the ADA; and is not a substitute for professional judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. ADA is not responsible for information on external websites linked to this website.