Genetic Salivary Testing
The Saliva plays an incredible role within the mouth. Not only does it cleanse your teeth but it can be a very accurate diagnostic tool. Saliva is secreted from the major salivary glands including the parotid, submandivular, and sublingual glands. Slightly acidic at a pG of 6.0-7.0, saliva itself consists of 99.5% water, and .5% electrolytes, mucus, glycoproteins, enzymes, and antibacterial compounds IgA and lysozyme.
In addition, it contains a variety of enzymes, hormones, antibodies, antimicrobial constituents, and cytokines which can be used to detect oral diseases with incredible precision: cavities, gum disease, oral cancer and systematic disorders. Over 1,166 specific proteins in the human saliva associated with certain diseases have been properly identified and the number is still growing.
How does something so simple as saliva work?
In previous years, scientists required blood in order to test for genetic pathogens. Modern technology allows for diagnostic testing using just saliva by detecting specific biomarkers such as mRNAs, microRNAs, proteins and metabolites. Scientists at UCLA have helped shown that saliva can be an extremely accurate medium for health screening just as blood and other body fluids. It was vast potential for early detection of cancers, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and many other disorders.
For almost every disease, there are monoclonal antibodies (mAb or moAb) or monospecific antibodies that are made from different immune cells. These cells have a specific affinity to bind to one epitope, an antigenic determinant. Because of the specificity of these cells, it is possible to use specific mAbs to test for specific diseases.
There exists many salivary data banks which contains a list of all known health risks that can be detected. The UCLA Salivaomics Knowledge Base is one which you can view here.
All of this is possible because saliva comes from the blood. Saliva is made in the same way you make tears; you have glands which have a rich blood supply. When the blood goes through our salivary glands, the walls of the capillaries are small enough for water molecules and small protein indicators to leach out. Essentially, what is found in our blood can also be found in our saliva and because of this saliva can be used as a source to monitor both oral and general health.
Materials and procedures:
It's as easy as two simple steps!
- Steril saline
- funneled collection tube with red screw caps
- two barcode labels
- plastic specimen transport bag
- Swish saline around the mouth for 30 seconds.
- Spit and you're done!
Salivary DNA Testing
In addition to pathogens, saliva can be used to detect genetic diseases and genes. DNA is a part of all cells and every living beings. It can be extracted from virtually any part of the human body: hair, finger nails, skin, sweat, blood, and even saliva. Saliva contains serum, proteins, hormones, mucosal skin cells, white blood cells and bacterial cells which makes it an excellent source of identifying certain disease-causing pathogens and genes. DNA can be extracted from bacterial cells in the saliva to tell us what kinds of bacteria are present in the mouth which in turn allows for all of the following:
- Screening embryos for disease & birth defects
- Screening for specific gene related diseases in adults
- Diagnostic confirmation
- Substance abuse
It's not always possible to prevent health related issues which is why it is important to have a more secure way of identifying the problem so that it can be effectively treated.
Genetic salivary diagnostic testing identifies the type and concentration of specific perio-pathogenic bacteria that are known to cause periodontal disease. This is a bacterial DNA test that allows for a earlier more specific treatment of periodontal disease based on the actual causes of infection - not just from clinical signs and symptoms which can be unreliable.