Why Are Mouth Swab Drug Tests Conducted?

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Swab drug tests have been gaining in popularity of late. These tests are replacing urine and blood tests on various occasions as they are less invasive. Administering a swab drug test is easier as they can be randomly administered at anytime and at any place. A swab drug test that is very popular is the oral swab drug test. These tests are generally used to determine if you have recently used drugs. This medical test is also known as the oral fluid test and is used to test drugs included in the SAMHSA-5 group. Drugs such as opiates, marijuana, cocaine, and phencyclidine are included in this group.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Saliva Swab Test

In the case of a saliva drug test, the procedure followed is very simple. A swab that looks like a brush is given to you. All you need to do is place it between your lower cheeks and gums for a few minutes. Put the swab in a vial once it gets wet completely. This has to be then submitted to the laboratory for conducting the test. A saliva swab drug test helps in the detection of drug metabolites in the sample that is taken. Metabolites are derivatives of drugs that are found in the body long after the drug's effects wear off.

The advantages of the saliva test or the mouth swab test are many. As mentioned earlier, collecting a sample of saliva is easier as compared say to a blood test. In addition it becomes very difficult to substitute this sample with another. One will also find it very difficult to adulterate the sample and manipulate the results. Adulteration and manipulation becomes easier in a urine test.

There are some disadvantages in the saliva swab test as well. The time frame in which the drug that is consumed can be detected in the saliva sample is not very high. Drug usage that is historical cannot be detected by regular swab testing. Only those drugs that are taken 12 to 24 hours prior to the test can be detected. This test is extremely beneficial, for example, when a company is conducting a random blood test of the staff in their office.

So, are these saliva tests reliable? Yes, they are. These tests help in bringing out the levels of drug concentration in the body. Although these tests are more expensive as compared to a urine test they are preferred by many people as they are non-intrusive and do not require much privacy.

Mouth Swab Drug Test

Mouth swab drug tests are a popular way to check for drug usage. Used by employers and parents, mouth swab drug tests are a type of oral fluid drug test that examine the saliva from the mouth for the presence of certain types of narcotics. Mouth swab drug test facts indicate that the test can be used to test for usage of drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methadone, phencyclidine, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. Saliva can be collected from the mouth in two ways - either swabbing or spitting. Collecting a spit sample could give the tester the opportunity to conduct a number of tests on the same sample whereas mouth swab drug test detection only allows for a single test to be conducted on a single sample. However, mouth swabs are easy to conduct with the sample collection not requiring privacy or contamination of any sort.

Oral mouth swab drug tests can be conducted in a clinical setting or using an at home kit. When conducted in a clinic, the professional will place a special swab between the person's cheek and gums or under his tongue and keep it there for a few minutes. Once enough saliva is collected in the swab, it is removed and sent to the lab for analysis and drug testing.

Testing Kits

Mouth swab drug testing kits are also commercially available. Similar to a pregnancy kit, these kits consist of an absorbent strip that is placed in the mouth to collect the saliva sample. As the saliva is collected, a colored line on the sample strip will indicate either positive or negative results. There are now also electronic versions of the mouth swab drug tests available that offer speedy and accurate results. Some saliva drug test results exhibit different colored lines indicating different types of drug usage. In case of multiple usages, several colored lines may occur on the sample strip. These results and readings can vary from kit to kit and hence you need to read instructions well before using.

Detection Period

Mouth swab drug test detection period ranges from ten to thirty minutes. Therefore they are not only fast and easy to use but mouth swab drug tests are accurate as well. However, mouth swab drug tests only indicate recent drug usage (within the last 48 hours) and some tests cannot be used to test for alcohol. Consumption of certain medications can also affect the results of the test and provide fake positive results and it is necessary to inform the doctor if you are on any medication. Smoking can also camouflage the presence of drugs in a mouth swab drug test kit.