Dentists (a.k.a. we're real doctors, I promise!) might soon be your first line of defence against cancer through something called salivanomics — meaning analysing your spit to see if you have diseases.
UCLA researcher Dr David Wong argues in a new paper published in the Journal of the American Dental Association that saliva contains a number of health indicators. Popular Science explains salivary diagnostics:
Human saliva is made up of molecules, after all, and in those complex molecules doctors or dentists looking for the right things can find everything from proteins to DNA to RNA — or basically the entire genome and a slew of other supporting characters. With these molecules identified and isolated researchers can then apply any number of scientific tools to them — things like gemomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics.
Most of us see our dentists more often than we see our regular doctors, and running tests on a simple mouth swag to check for diseases is not at all invasive, and in some cases, just as effective testing blood or other bodily fluids in the diagnosis process. This isn't something that's being implemented quite yet, but it should be; the next time you have a dental exam, you could be caring for your overall health as well. And it might make you schedule that teeth cleaning on time for the first time in your life. [UCLA via PopSci]