The search for accessible and cost-effective biomarkers to complement current cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and imaging biomarkers in the accurate detection of Alzheimer disease (AD) and other common neurodegenerative disorders remains a challenging task. The advances in ultra-sensitive detection methods has highlighted blood biomarkers (e.g. amyloid-β and neurofilament light) as a valuable and realistic tool in a diagnostic or screening process. Saliva, however, is also a rich source of potential biomarkers for disease detection and offers several practical advantages over biofluids that are currently examined for neurodegenerative disorders. However, while this may be true for the general population, challenges in collecting saliva from an elderly population should be seriously considered. In this review, we begin by discussing how saliva is produced and how age-related conditions can modify saliva production and composition. We then focus on the data available which support the concept of salivary amyloid-β, tau species and novel biomarkers in detecting AD and alpha-synuclein (α-syn) in Parkinson’s disease (PD).