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Test for saliva secretion rate

Saliva tests are used in order to measure the flow rate of saliva. They can be taken either as "unstimulated" or "stimulated" saliva and they are a complement to the clinical examination. The methods described below are for simple clinical routine analysis - for scientific purposes several other methods are available.

It is recommended that the tests are performed at least one hour after the person has eaten something (drinking water is allowed), smoked or taken snuff. It is important that the person is relaxed and calm. If the person has any disease, it should be considered if the disease affects the secretion rate, and if it is a temporary condition or a long-lasting disease. If long-lasting, the reduced secretion rate may be regarded as representative for that patient and for that period of time.

Test for Unstimulated Saliva

Materials unstimulated saliva test

Materials needed:

  • graduated test tube or a measure-cup
  • a funnel
  • a watch or timer

How to measure...

The person sits in an upright position with his head inclined forward so that the production of saliva is collected in the floor of the mouth and then flows out over the lip.

Saliva formed is let to drip into the graduated test tube or a measure-cup for 15 minutes.

The result of this collection is expressed as milliliters per minute.

Reference values for unstimulated saliva (adult subjects):

Unstimulated Saliva

more than 0.25 normal
0.1 - 0.25 low
less than 0.1 very low

Test for Stimulated Saliva


Materials needed:
  • a piece of paraffin for chewing to stimulate saliva secretion
  • graduated test tube or a measure-cup
  • a funnel
  • a timer

How to measure...


 The person chews a piece of paraffin until it becomes soft.

Before the collection is started the first portion of saliva is swallowed.


Start timer and the chewing is continued for another 5 minutes (for subjects with high secretion rate, 3 minutes may be enough).

The saliva is spat out at short intervals in a graduated test tube or a measure-cup during the collection period.

The collected saliva is then measured. The measurement should not include the foam which is formed during the collection. The result is expressed as milliliters per minute.

Reference values for stimulated saliva (adult subjects):

Stimulated Saliva

more than 1.0 normal
0.7 - 1.0 low
less than 0.7 very low


Saliva secretion rate and caries in PubMed

Senast uppdaterad av Magnus Jando