Monitoring of saliva pH using miniaturized sensing tools as an indicator of oral health

Suzanne O'Callaghan, Gerald McKenna, Kenneth Stanton, Karen Twomey

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The monitoring of oral disease is important, not alone for oral health, but for the detection and prevention of
systemic disease. The link between oral health and systemic disease is the focus of many studies, with
indications emerging of a causal link [1]. For disease diagnostics, blood has typically been the fluid of choice
for analysis, the retrieval of which is invasive and therefore unsuitable for wearable technology. Analysis of
saliva, however, is less invasive than that of blood, requires little or no pre-treatment and is abundantly
available. A strong correlation has been found between the analytes of blood and saliva [2] with saliva
containing biomarkers for diseases such as diabetes, oral cancer and cardiovascular disease. The development of
an implantable multi-parametric wireless sensor, to monitor both salivary analytes and changes in gingival
temperature, is the aim of this research project.
The aim of our current study is to detect changes in salivary pH, using a gold electrode with a pHsensitive
iridium oxide layer, and an Ion Sensitive Field Effect Transistor probe. Characterisation studies were
carried out in artificial saliva (AS). A salivary pH of between 4.5pH-7.5pH [3], and gingival temperature
between 35°C-38°C [4], were identified as the target range of interest for the human oral environment. Sensor
measurements were recorded in solutions of varying pH and temperature. An ISFET probe was then implanted
into a prototype denture and characterised in AS. This study demonstrates the suitability of ISFET and gold
electrode pH sensors for incorporation into implantable oral sensors.
[1] G. Taylor and W. Borgnakke, “Periodontal disease: associations with diabetes, glycemic control and
complications,” Oral Dis., vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 191–203, Apr. 2008.
[2] E. Tékus, M. Kaj, E. Szabó, N. L. Szénási, I. Kerepesi, M. Figler, R. Gábriel, and M. Wilhelm,
“Comparison of blood and saliva lactate level after maximum intensity exercise,” Acta Biol. Hung., vol. 63
Suppl 1, pp. 89–98, 2012.
[3] S. Naveen, M. L. Asha, G. Shubha, A. Bajoria, and A. Jose, “Salivary Flow Rate, pH and Buffering
Capacity in Pregnant and Non Pregnant Women - A Comparative Study,” JMED Res., pp. 1–8, Feb. 2014.
[4] A. F. Holthuis and F. S. Chebib, “Observations on temperature and temperature patterns of the gingiva. I.
The effect of arch, region and health,” J. Periodontol., vol. 54, no. 10, pp. 624–628, Oct. 1983
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2015
EventCollege of Medicine and Health / INFANT Research Workshop 2015 - University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Duration: 29 May 201529 May 2015


ConferenceCollege of Medicine and Health / INFANT Research Workshop 2015

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