How Saliva Can Detect Your Health Condition

2 min

Biomarkers or salivary markers are indicators that are measured and evaluated to analyze the normal biological process, pathogenic process and pharmacological responses for any therapeutical intervention.

The above statement can be Greek and Latin for many, it simply states that markers in the saliva can detect your health condition precisely.

These markers can give us partial information regarding the current physiological state of the individual.

Our mouth is composed of a complex environment with saliva and its habitants to hydrate and replenish the oral environment and to carry out their part in the functioning of our body.

To determine and diagnose an underlying pathology at an early stage at a nonhospital setup with a non-invasive technique is based on these salivary biomarkers.

They are less time consuming with immediate results.

Oral fluids present in our mouth are considered as the mirror of our body or window on health status. It is a good source for various biomarkers.


A biomarker can fall under any of the following forms:

  • Antibodies (secreted in our body against pathogens).
  • Microorganism (oral microbes).
  • DNA & RNA
  • Tissue lipids.
  • Metabolites.
  • Proteins.

These salivary biomarkers serve as a valuable noninvasive tooth to detect the pathogen, in risk assessment, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment monitoring of the progression or regression of the disease.

Any change in the concentration, structure, function or action of the biomarker is often associated with onset, progression or regression of a particular condition.


There is no universally accepted technique for the salivary biomarker sample collection.

The pathologist or the person responsible for the collection of the sample must follow proper collection techniques in order to avoid contamination and bias.

The saliva is collected by placing a noninvasive suction apparatus, a Lashley cup, spitting, drains and using cotton swabs.

The commonly followed are cotton swabs and spitting.

Though cotton swab technique collection is common, it is reported with more number of biases.


  • Ig G – HIV (AIDS), Hepatitis A & C viruses, Plasmodium falciparum (malaria), Ebola virus.
  • Ig M – Hepatitis A viruses.
  • Ig A – Hepatitis A viruses & dengue viruses.
  • RNA – Hepatitis A & C viruses, Ebola virus.
  • HbsAg, HbsAb & HbcAb – Hepatitis B virus.
  • DNA – Hepatitis B virus, Tuberculosis (TB), Herpes simplex virus (HSV), Epstein Barr virus, Human herpes virus & Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • Antigen – Ebola virus.


  • Oral cancer- Capnocytophaga gingivalis, Prevotella malaninogenica & Streptococcus mitis.
  • Periodontal disease– Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Tannerella forsythia, Camphylobacter rectus, Treponema denticola.
  • Dental caries- Streptococcus mutans, Lactobacillus species.


A vast source of mRNA and miRNA are available in salivary fluids that help in identifying Sjogren’s syndrome and cancer. These are called as transcriptomics.

Salivary proteins and other types of proteins in saliva help in the detection of oral cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, periodontal disease, & AIDS (HIV). These biomarkers are called proteomics.

Methylation is the capacity of the DNA that induces the cells to maintain or alter the unique characteristics by controlling the gene expression.

These help in differentiating between oral squamous cell carcinoma and head and neck carcinoma.

Recent studies suggested that they have a potential role in forensic science and body fluid identification. This technique is called methylomics.

This article has given an insight into what a single drop of saliva can detect and its potential use in various disease detections. You can add more valuable comments about salivary biomarkers below.


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Dr Arun

Dr. Arun is a practicing dentist with more than 11 years of experience. Loves to blog and in constant search of new knowledge in dentistry and health niche.


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