Expert’s Speak

An Interview With Dr. Anirban Chatterjee 

Saliva - The Two-edged Sword

We had a very yielding discussion with Dr. Anirban Chatterjee-Professor and Head of Department of Periodontology,Oxford Dental College and Hospital, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

Dr. Chatterjee is a recipient of the prestigious Bharat Jyoti and best professor award in 2011 and 2013, respectively. He has multitude of publications to his credit and is also a member of editorial board of multitude of national and international journals. Topics like Perio-esthetics, Periodontally accelerated osteogenic orthodontics and Platelet-rich fibrin matrix stimulate his interest.
Here is the highlight of the discussion:

Dr Anirban Chatterjee
Dr Anirban Chatterjee

Professor and Head

Department of Periodontology

Oxford Dental College and Hospital, Bangalore, India

Question 1: Being a gum specialist and an avid researcher, what would you like to say about Saliva in the perspective of
disease diagnosis?
Answer: I have been working with saliva for a long time now. It is the most diagnostic fluid in the body. It can detect cancer at stage-1 , cardiac or kidney diseases and even COVID-19. Studies have shown it is the fastest and the most comfortable route for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis. It has shown higher sensitivity than many biosensors.
We can also use saliva to detect periodontitis via inflammatory cells, healing cells, immunoglobulins etc. I feel presently it is the best diagnostic tool owing to its easy and immediate collection methods.

Question 2. Though we hear much about saliva research happening globally,what would you suggest about the limitations related to saliva diagnostics?

Answer: India is lagging behind in the research sector due to lack of funding opportunities. As a result the studies are limited for thesis or dissertation purposes only. Applicability of such diagnostic researches is also doubtful on large scale on a day-to-day basis. Having said that, due to current pandemic, government of India is using salivary diagnostic platform to generate pool sampling, as a result a lot of interest has generated towards this field. The government has also initiated and promoted indigenously developed projects in research. All of this is slowly helping India to reach the same level as other advanced economies in terms of research progress.

Question 3. In one of our conversations, you mentioned saliva as a two edged sword...why do you say so?

Answer: Saliva is a diagnostic tool for a number of diseases. It has a number of digestive and healing enzymes as well. That is one edge of the sword. But on the other edge, Studies have reported that the COVID 19 virus can persist in saliva for about 100 days without showing any symptoms. One can imagine the spread of disease to a number of people from such a source. Thus, in this present situation saliva is a potential route of infection spread and thereby it becomes the other edge of our sword.

Question 4. What are your suggestions to our viewers on hygiene practices in relation to air borne diseases?
Answer: The regular hygiene practices has to be performed meticulously. Brushing, flossing, oral prophylaxsis are included in this routine. But in current scenario any aerosol generating procedures are not advisable. All precautions are to be followed. While brushing, rinse with 0.2% chlorhexidine mouthwash, which has antibacterial, anti-plaque and anti-staining properties. Studies have reported excellent results from using chlorine-dioxide mouthwashes or 10% betadine gargles as well.

Question 5. What are your views regarding the role of saliva in the present as well as the post Covid19 pandemic?
Answer: As we have discussed, in the current scenario saliva is an excellent diagnostic tool because pooled samples can be used to generate results which are accurate and fast. In Post-Covid-19 world we still need to be cautious about use of saliva to prevent aerosol generation, just as we discussed that saliva is a double-edged sword.

6. Your one message to the world:
Keeping in mind the current pandemic, I would suggest using a mothwash or betadine gargles while going outside, taking steam inhalations and avoiding “MEN”. Yes, avoid MEN, Follow WOMEN!



E: Eyes and


follow regular

W: Washing of hands,

O: Obey social distancing,

M: wear a Mask,

E: Exercise and Eat healthy, and finally

N:No Spitting.

Avoid MEN, Follow WOMEN!