Measuring salivary flow: challenges and opportunities

J Am Dent Assoc. 2008 May;139 Suppl:35S-40S. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.2008.0353.


Background: Saliva is being studied extensively and is being used for risk assessment, diagnosis and monitoring high-risk behavior and disease progression. A variety of medical conditions and medications are associated with salivary gland hypofunction. The major disadvantage in the use of saliva for health-related purposes is the lack of standardization in saliva collection methods.

Methods: The authors provide a brief overview of different methods of saliva collection and the advantages and disadvantages associated with each method, as well as of how to assess the salivary flow rate.

Results: The authors present the complete set up and step-by-step guidelines for the collection of unstimulated and stimulated whole saliva.

Conclusions: The life expectancy of people will continue to increase with advances in medicine and therapeutic modalities, and the prevalence of salivary gland hypofunction in the elderly population will increase owing to their longevity. The assessment of salivary gland hypo-function will need to be incorporated into everyday clinical practice.

Clinical implications: The saliva collection methods outlined in this article can be used by dentists to assess patients at risk of developing diseases and by scientists for scholarly activities.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism
  • Secretory Rate
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Xerostomia / physiopathology