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Saliva test could identify heart and gum diseases

A self-contained saliva test kit that may spot periodontal and heart disease is now undergoing scientific review.Researchers are studying the kit to determine if it proves effective in helping dentists test patients for those diseases.

"For years, oral health care professionals have talked about a close connection between a person's saliva and his or her bloodstream," said Dr. William Giannobile, a University of Michigan professor of dentistry and associate professor of biomedical engineering who developed the test kit. "There are a significant number of potential applications for this device because of its ease of use and its portability."

The hand-held, battery powered rapid-test kit is being used to test saliva samples from several dozen patients to determine if they have periodontal or cardiovascular disease biomarkers. Using the kit, a dentist could learn in 15 minutes or less if their patients have either disease.

So far 30 individuals have participated in a pilot UM study. By the end of 2005, saliva samples from another 100 individuals will be collected.

Testing will help determine which biological markers indicate the presence of periodontal disease and osteoporosis as well as detect the presence of C-reactive protein, a cardiovascular disease marker.

"The tests we are now conducting using this kit may determine just how much of a link there is between a person's saliva and their blood, and how it may be affecting their overall health," said Dr. Giannobile.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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