Oral Fluid Saliva Tests: What You Need To Know

Oral Fluid Saliva Tests - What You Need To Know

Did you know that your mouth is the window to your overall health? Symptoms such as bleeding gums, dry mouth, yeast overgrowth, and more are all indicators that there might be something out of sync with your body. Fortunately, there are now a number of oral salivary tests available that can help your dentist create a specific treatment plan for you. In this article, I’m going to review exactly what you need to know about oral salivary testing, including the disease-specific tests available!

A quick refresher on oral health

The vascular system in the mouth is the same system that runs throughout the entire body. In fact, there is an increased risk of early term and low birth weight babies when mothers have gum (i.e. periodontal) disease. There are now specific gum and mouth bacterias that have been shown to be responsible for cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, medications can have a negative effect in the mouth, especially dry mouth. Unfortunately, with decreased saliva comes an increased risk of decay as well as difficulty chewing and swallowing food. This occurs because the saliva and its enzymes are not there to aide in the beginning stages of food break down.

Consider this scenario

If you had an area on your body that was bleeding every time you touched it, would you just let it go or would you go to your doctor to find out why it keeps bleeding?

It’s safe to assume most of us would seek medical attention, as it is not normal for areas of our body to consistently bleed. The same is true of our mouth! Healthy tissues do not bleed and bleeding gums are a sign of infection.

If you are flossing consistently and the bleeding in your mouth resolves (as it should) that’s a good sign. However, if the bleeding does not stop, despite brushing 2-3 times daily and flossing at least once daily, it is time to look further into your oral health!

RELATED: The Importance of Oral Hygiene During Childhood

Early detection through oral fluid saliva tests

A recent development in the dentistry world, oral saliva tests are a more popular and cost-effective way for doctors to accurately detect disease at an earlier, more treatable stage. They’re also used to detect genetic risk, substance abuse, and more.

While most of these tests are only available through your doctor, a few are now available over the counter for at home use. With this in mind, below are a list of conditions along with the respective saliva tests used to detect them.

Oral fluid saliva tests for cancer


OncAlert from Vigilant Biosciences measures your total protein levels and assesses the level of tumor-initiating and stem cell-associated biomarker CD44. This information is used in the early detection and intervention of oral cancer.

SaliMark OSCC

SaliMark OSCC from PeriRx, LLC is used to detect increased levels of certain mRNAs and is the first commercially available saliva test for the early detection of oral cancer (i.e. squamous cell carcinoma).

Drug use can be detected via oral salivary testing

Oral fluid saliva tests for drugs and alcohol

Intercept Oral Fluid Drug Test

The Intercept Oral Fluid Drug Test from OraSure Technologies, Inc. is an FDA-cleared laboratory-based test that enables accurate testing for drugs of abuse including marijuana, cocaine, PCP, amphetamines, and opiates. Intercept can also be used to screen for barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and methadone.

Q.E.D. Saliva Alcohol Test

The Q.E.D. Saliva Alcohol Test from OraSure Technologies, Inc. is an on-site, rapid, low-cost alcohol testing alternative to breath or blood testing.

Oral fluid saliva tests for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

OraQuick In-Home HIV Test

The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test from OraSure Technologies, Inc. is it the first and only oral fluid rapid over-the-counter HIV test approved in the U.S. It can detect antibodies to both HIV-1 and HIV-2 with a simple oral swab. This provides you with a confidential, in-home testing option that generates results in as little as 20 minutes.

Purchase OraQuick In-Home HIV Testing on Amazon

OraQuick ADVANCE Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test 

The OraQuick ADVANCE Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test from OraSure Technologies, Inc. is FDA-approved for use with oral fluid, fingerstick, or venous whole blood and plasma. This test is administered in office, detects antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2, and delivers results with laboratory accuracy in 20 minutes.

Oral salivary tests can be used to detect genetic risks

Oral fluid saliva tests for genetic risks


23andMe from 23andMe, Inc. is an over-the-counter DNA testing kit that comes in two versions (Ancestry or Ancestry + Health).

While both versions provide ancestry reports, the Ancestry + Health version also detects genetic health risks, carrier status, wellness features, and physical traits. As a result, the Ancestry + Health version is the better bang for your buck!

Purchase 23andMe Ancestry + Health on 23andMe or Amazon

Celsus One

Celsus One from OralDNA Labs is a test used to evaluate 8 gene markers related to the inflammatory response.

MyPerio ID

MyPerio ID from OralDNA Labs has two test versions (IL-1 and IL-6). Both tests are used to identify your genetic susceptibility to gum disease.


Alert 2 from OralDNA Labs is a combination of MyPerioPath and MyPerio ID IL-6.

Oral fluid saliva tests for gum disease and cavities


MyPerioPath from OralDNA Labs is the most widely used test doctors use to determine the cause of gum disease.

OraRisk Caries

OraRisk Caries from OralDNA Labs is a test used to identify Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, and Lactobacillus casei – 3 types of harmful bacteria known to cause cavities.


Alert 2 from OralDNA Labs is a combination of MyPerioPath and MyPerio ID IL-6.

Oral fluid saliva tests for human papillomavirus (HPV)

OraRisk HPV

OraRisk HPV from OralDNA Labs is a non-invasive, easy-to-use screening tool to identify the type(s) of oral HPV, a virus that could potentially lead to oral cancer. The newest version of this test is OraRisk HPV 16/18/HR, which is a used to detect only the 14 high-risk HPV genotypes.

Oral fluid saliva tests for herpes simplex virus (HSV)

OraRisk HSV

OraRisk HSV for OralDNA Labs is an accurate, sensitive, and easy way to diagnose HSV-1 and HSV-2 outbreaks involving the mouth.

Oral salivary tests can be used to detect for bacteria and fungi

Oral fluid saliva tests for bacteria and fungi

OraRisk Candida

OraRisk Candida from OralDNA Labs identifies all common species of the yeast, Candida. This fungus is known to cause thrush in patients with a normal or compromised immune system.

OraRisk CT/NG

OraRisk CT/NG from OralDNA Labs is the most sensitive way to test for Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and or Neisseria gonorrhea (NG) of the mouth.

Oral fluid saliva DNA drug mapping

DNA Drug Map

Lastly, DNA Drug Map testing from OralDNA Labs is a test that identifies your body’s ability to metabolize different medications. Using this information, your doctor is able to more accurately dose your medications. 


In the end, I hope you now understand how important your oral health is and how oral saliva testing can be used as a preventative or diagnostic health measure. As technology advances, I foresee the accuracy, accessibility, and general use of these tests only to improve. If you have any questions or concerns, ask your dentist about getting oral saliva tests done today!

What are your thoughts on oral fluid saliva testing? Leave your feedback in the comments below!


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Dr. Rankin is a graduate of The University of Iowa School of Dentistry. She met her husband and business partner, Dr. Michael Mingle, in dental school. After graduation, she and Dr. Mingle served in the US Navy providing dental care to service members. Following her service, she returned to Colorado to open Rankin and Mingle Dentistry and has been in practice for over 20 years. Dr. Rankin is a member of The American Academy of Facial Esthetics, Seattle Study Club and is Cerec certified. She has been chosen as a Top Dentist in 5280 Magazine for several years. Dr. Rankin has a passion for health and nutrition and as a professional health coach, is able to help her patients better understand the connection between oral and systemic health. She has 2 children and 3 dogs. Her hobbies include traveling with her family, fitness, cooking, and spending time on the water.