Diagnostics is one of the most important parts of dentistry -- it's hard to fix the problem in your mouth if you're not entirely sure what's wrong. Dentists (and related specialties, like prosthodontists or orthodontists) today have the benefit of ever-expanding technology and better equipment that can help pinpoint precisely what and where the problem is -- and it can do most of it with a small sample of saliva. If you're curious about what saliva-based dental diagnostics involve and how they can help you, then here's what you ought to know.
Saliva-based dental diagnostic tests are a relatively new (and ever-evolving) idea
Though those interested in the field of oral health and care have known for a while that your saliva is important in dental diagnostics, the idea of collecting said saliva to test it is one that has only become popular in the last few decades or so. Gathering a patient's saliva is easy for the dentist and completely non-invasive for the patient, making it a good technique to use for everyone involved.
Saliva is a good indicator of health
If you thought your saliva was only good for spitting contests and determining the color of the jawbreaker you popped into your mouth, think again. Saliva is actually crucial in washing food and plaque away from your teeth, and can alert your dentist that something may be wrong with your oral health. Biomarkers from different diseases and/or illicit, body-harming drugs can be found in saliva, and can give your dentist (and other doctors, if necessary) clues as to what might be causing your health problems. Problems or irregularities in your saliva can be the first sign of a problem (such as a systemic disease), and can get you the care you need -- before the disease progresses.
Saliva tests can be better for your mental health
Most of the things your dentist can tell you are incredibly useful dental hygiene tips -- like to stop over brushing or to floss more. But declaring you free of every oral disease known to man, one by one, can be less than productive, not to mention confusing and ultimately anxiety-causing. With the advances in medical technology, your dentist can test your saliva and get the diagnosis perfect the first time, saving you worry and most likely improving your prognosis (as many, if not most, diseases are easier to treat in their beginning stages).
For more information about this and other innovations in dental care, contact a professional such as James J. Susack, DMD, PC.