What is a mouth swab drug test?
A collector sponge is applied orally to collect saliva. Once a sufficient amount of saliva specimen is collected, the presence of the saliva specimen will make contact with the test strips causing a chemical reaction to occur. Saliva reacts with the chemicals inside of the device checking for trace elements of illicit or illegally acquired drugs present within the specimen.
So if urine drug test devices are the most popular method of drug testing (55 million taken in the US last year) then why consider saliva swab drug tests? This is an important question because a urine device might not be suitable for your needs.
First of all, urine testing kits require bathrooms. The sink's water should be turned off before acquiring the urine sample. Urine testing requires multiple accessories to be purchased and used during the testing process. The items needed are bluing tablets (optional), urine collection cups, adulterant strips, etc. Other accessories that might be needed are lab confirmation transport bottles and (+ -) urine controls.
Saliva drug testing does not require a bathroom to be used as it is not needed. This eliminates dry bladder issues that are common with urine collection. These devices can be administered anywhere such as an office setting, doctors office, human resources, staffing agencies or even in the field. If your company is a small business or you are in construction, the oil fields just for an example, drug test mouth swab kits are really perfect for your types of business and industry. It's true that urine drug testing can be a very messy experience and there is a lot of people that just do not want the burden of it.
Another important factor is that it takes longer to set up for running urine tests while most swab test kits are a simple one or two piece unit including test device and swab. Once the saliva sample is contained, it is conveniently held inside of the device where a port can be opened later by a lab for confirmation purposes, should a presumptive positive test result occur. Saliva screening is a much easier form of testing: it is easy to collect and the least invasive method of drug testing. No mess, no fuss, and much less time taken. Once the test is initiated you can expect results in just 10 minutes.
Since saliva is very hard and almost impossible to adulterate, adulterant strips are not required. In performing a mouth swab, the testing platform is saliva and the specimen is obtained under complete supervision. The test remains in control of the administrator. Mouth swab tests are always administrator controlled and never donor controlled.
Drug detection times are different between the two methods. Saliva tests have a shorter drug detection window than that of urine. Some employers prefer to screen for a more recent drug detection window while other employers have no preference. Many employers simply do not want a person on their payroll that uses illegal drugs in one form or another.
As an employer, would you be less concerned if an employee or potential employee tested positive for marijuana that had been consumed a month ago or would you be more concerned if you could prove that this employee was under the influence while on the job doing a shift, on your time?
Saliva Detection Times:
- Cocaine - Up to 24 hours
- Opiates - Up to 21 hours
- Amphetamine - Up to 72 hours
- Methamphetamine - Up to 72 hours
- Marijuana - Up to 12 hours
- Phencyclidine - Up to 3 days
We have talked about the benefits of screening for saliva. Now let us talk about the negatives.
What are the cons of mouth swab drug testing?
- Mouth swab kits are not as accurate as urine
- THC is very hard to be determined in saliva unless your test can detect the parent drug of marijuana and just not its metabolite
- Shorter drug detection times
- Smoked drugs can contaminate saliva. Make sure to have the donor not eat, drink or use any tobacco products 15 minutes before the test
- The price of swab test kits usually cost more than other test devices
- Many of the mouth swab drug tests on the market today are not FDA cleared. Those that do not have FDA cleared status are to be used for forensic use only. All products labeled as "Forensic Use Only" are only sold or distributed to Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Agencies, for example, Prisons, Sheriffs' Departments, and Drug Courts.
What are the names of mouth swab kits that are FDA cleared?
At this time the only saliva test on the market that is FDA cleared is the Oratect testing for 6 drugs. This 6 panel saliva swab drug test identifies the THC parent drug instead of the marijuana metabolite making the test much more accurate for THC detection and identification.
Forensic Use Only Saliva Mouth Swab Tests
Oralert detects THC for up to 24 hours. Detects up to 6 drugs simultaneously.
iScreen OFD by Alere. Available in both 5 and 6 panel test options. There is also a cotinine version for the identification of smoking status; cigarettes, cigars and pipe smoking.
Oral Cube, available in both 6 and11 Panel Alcohol Drug Test options.
What are saliva drug tests used for?
Saliva or oral drug testing detects the presence of various drugs. Employers use it for drugs of abuse screening purposes for job applicants, random drug testing and more.
Many companies today perform random tests using mouth swabs. Usually, it is done by software using a computer system that randomly selects a pool of employees. Once selected and notified, those persons will be given the notice to appear for a drug test. Commonly this is repeated once a month. Other employers may desire to test using a longer or a different time frame.