Letter: Saliva-based testing

The article “August JADA Explores Saliva-Based Testing,” was very interesting. Unfortunately, what was omitted from the article was which clinical applications it could be used for. It indicated that it could be used for systemic disease determination, such as cancer.  Might it be used to confirm a bacterial or viral infection?  Could it tell us if the saliva components of an individual had a predilection for dental caries? Might it confirm the presence or level of periodontal disease? Would it tell if an oral ulcer is carcinogenic or if the oral lesion represents an indication that an autoimmune disease is the causative factor?

If a dentist could use that technology to identify a disease, what could he do with the information? A typical dental insurance form has room only for procedures. He or she would need training in how to complete a medical form where there is room on it for a diagnostic code and a treatment code. There does exist ICD-10 medical codes that describe diagnostic findings. There are little to no CPT (medical treatment codes) that describe dental procedures. If a breakthrough ever does arrive for using saliva for dental diagnoses we will need a second breakthrough on how to supply the information to which insurance company.

Stanley Markman, D.D.S.
Cliffside Park, New Jersey

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