The average human produces around 50 ounces of saliva every day. Although most of us don’t even notice that it is there, saliva plays a vital role in your overall health and well-being.
Your saliva provides protection and lubrication for your gums and teeth. It also contains essential digestive enzymes that begin the digestion process when you eat a meal. Without your saliva, chewing and swallowing your food would be much more difficult.
Changes in the appearance of your saliva or the amount of saliva that is produced in your mouth can reflect an underlying problem. You may spot these changes when you’re brushing your teeth or looking in the mirror.
However, changes in saliva are sometimes subtle and this makes them difficult to spot. This is where using a saliva collection kit can be helpful.
A saliva collection kit provides a method of collecting your spit so that it can be analysed for abnormalities. Through your saliva, you can see changes in your health status and genetic markers of disease.
Here are four things that your saliva can tell you about your health.
Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, is caused by a reduction in saliva production. If you don’t produce enough saliva, your risk of gum disease increases.
Saliva acts as a buffer to neutralize the acids in your mouth, preventing it from damaging your teeth. It helps to wash away bacteria and plaque that could otherwise cause tooth decay.
When you have dry mouth, germs are left to grow and build up on your teeth. This can cause cavities and halitosis (bad breath).
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of dry mouth. Other causes include poor nutrition and medications, including anti hypertensives, antihistamines, anti-depressants, and diuretics. The risk of dry mouth also increases with age.
Oral thrush is caused by a yeast infection in the mouth. When a species of yeast called Candida albicans infects your mouth, your saliva will turn white or cream-colored. It will start to build up on your teeth and gums.
Yeast infections are more common in babies or people with lowered immunity. Your risk of oral thrush increases with certain prescription medications and long-term cigarette smoking.
Believe it or not, changes in your saliva can be caused by diabetes. Your saliva can be tested to get an idea about the amount of glucose that is in your blood.
Having high blood glucose levels indicates a lack of insulin or increased insulin resistance, which are key characteristics of diabetes. Other diabetes symptoms include dry mouth and inflamed or bleeding gums.
Saliva tests can be used to identify the presence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibodies. A quick swab to sample your saliva can be taken and tested to provide a diagnosis in just 15 minutes.
By using a self-testing saliva kit at home, you can learn about your HIV status in private. You may need a blood test to confirm your diagnosis and you should contact your doctor to learn more about the treatment options for HIV.