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Oral Health Topics

Salivary Diagnostics

Key Points 

  • Saliva and other oral fluids (e.g., gingival crevicular fluid, combined secretions of minor salivary glands) 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.
  • Oral fluid testing by clinical laboratories for the detection of viral infection (e.g., SARS CoV-2, HIV, HPV, HSV) or other infectious agents (e.g., Candida albicans), 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.
  • Several diagnostic tests that use saliva or oral fluid samples for detection of SARS CoV-2 have received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • As of June 2021, 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 on Efficacy of Salivary Diagnostics for Oral Diseases
  • Summary
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Additional Resources
Last Updated: July 19, 2021

Prepared by:

Department of Scientific Information, Evidence Synthesis & Translation Research, ADA Science & Research Institute, LLC.


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