As an integrative dental practice, Bucks County Smiles uses all the tools available to ensure the health and well-being of you and your entire family. Salivary testing is one of the methods we use to assess the health of your mouth and overall wellness.
Many dentists do not use salivary testing as part of their oral health assessments, so it may be new to you. However, at Bucks County Smiles, we have discovered that salivary testing can play an important role in the diagnosis and prevention of oral and systemic health issues.
Salivary testing, also called oral fluid testing, gives us a better picture of what’s going on inside the mouth. Using salivary testing, we can check for bacterial changes or abnormalities that can increase the risk of periodontal disease, dental cavities, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and even some cancers.
The fluid that naturally develops in your mouth is called saliva, more colloquially known as “spit.” Your saliva serves a number of important purposes. First, it works to break down the food you eat to prepare it for digestion. Second, saliva keeps the mouth and gums properly lubricated. It also keeps the pH levels in your mouth balanced by reducing acid. Saliva has natural germ-fighting properties, and it can even reduce bad breath.
A dry mouth without enough saliva can cause problems, from sores to increased plaque. Low saliva can actually increase the rate of tooth decay as well as periodontal (gum) disease.
Salivary diagnostics is the analysis of saliva to help with medical diagnosis. Your saliva contains many markers that enable us to gauge health. It includes a unique mix of cellular residue, including DNA, white blood cells, proteins, and additional biomarkers that we can assess to identify a number of potential issues, including:
Three strains of bacteria are implicated as major contributors to tooth decay. Bacterial infection is also implicated in gum disease (periodontal disease). This bacteria in the mouth can travel to other organs in the body and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems. We can easily test for problematic bacteria with salivary diagnostics.
Genetic markers in your DNA can indicate a predisposition for inflammatory diseases, including periodontal disease, diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common STD that can cause cancer, including oral cancer. Your primary care physician probably won’t screen you for this, but we can. We can also test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes (HSV 1), and even candida (yeast).
Getting a sample of saliva is a simple, painless process. We ask you to spit into a small vial after rinsing with a saline solution. We will then send this saliva sample to a laboratory for testing. Results can take one to two weeks to come in. When the results are available, we will go over them with you, share them with your physician(s), and discuss any possible treatment plans or mitigation strategies to protect your oral health.