Links Between Oral and General Health

The Mouth as Early Warning System

Problems in the mouth can signal trouble in other parts of the body. AIDS and osteoporosis are examples.

  • Mouth lesions and other oral conditions may be the first sign of HIV infection, and are used to determine the stage of infection and to follow its progression to AIDS.

  • Studies in post-menopausal women suggest that bone loss in the lower jaw may precede the skeletal bone loss seen in osteoporosis.

Saliva As a Diagnostic Tool

Saliva, like blood and urine, can be used to detect and measure many compounds in the body. Saliva collection has the advantage of being noninvasive.

  • Many medications as well as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, opiates, and other drugs can be detected and measured in saliva. Hormones and environmental toxins can also be measured in saliva.

  • Saliva can be used to detect antibodies against viruses such as HIV and hepatitis A and B, as well as antibodies against bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, which causes peptic ulcers.

  • Saliva could potentially replace blood testing for diagnosis and monitoring of diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, and many infectious diseases.

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