Oral drug tests, or mouth drug tests, work by gathering and testing individual saliva. The most popular and reliable test is the oral swab drug test, where a sterile swab is placed between the cheek and lower jaw for about three minutes to absorb saliva.
Employers turn to oral drug testing to ensure their employees do not use illegal drugs. There are also home appliances that parents can use to determine whether their children use drugs or drink alcohol. After collecting samples and sealing them, they are then sent to participating laboratories for testing and results.
As with any drug screening, there are pros and cons to oral swab drug testing. Reading about them can help you decide whether this type of filtering suits your needs.
Benefits of Oral Drug Tests
The benefits of oral drug testing include non-invasive testing and fast results for several substances. A mouth drug testing is easy and is also cheaper than a more invasive urine examination and blood drawn in a laboratory.
Mouth drug tests or Oral tests accurately filter alcohol and some street drugs:
- THC / Marijuana *
- Phencyclidine (Angel Dust)
* Employers in states where cannabis is permitted for recreation or medical use can still refuse to employ job applicants who are tested positive for its use. Federal employees are prohibited from using marijuana for any reason.
Many of these drugs are included in the multi-drug test panel.
Oral Drug Test Provides Fast Results
Detection times for oral swab drug tests vary. Most showed results in a day or even sooner, almost the same as a urine test. Alcohol can be detected from six to 12 hours after collecting saliva samples, and cannabis between 12 and 24 hours. The use of cocaine will appear within one day of testing. Longer periods of time for opiates and heroin (two to three days) and methamphetamine are needed (two to four days).
Some tests give almost instant results immediately after the sample is added to the collection tube. Others produce results after about 10 minutes.
Alternative Drug Screening Tests Are Invasive or Difficult for Patients
Oral drug tests are easier to do than the alternatives: blood and urine tests.
- Blood taking is invasive and can cause unnecessary pain. Even a skilled phlebotomist can have difficulty finding blood vessels to collect blood and leave bruised arms or hands.
- Many people have difficulty producing urine samples on demand, even after drinking large amounts of water. Those who suffer from paruresis, or shy bladder, have a harder time.
In addition, both blood and urine are classified as dangerous fluids and require special treatment to prevent transmission of the disease.
Conversely, mouth swabs can be done at any time, without adding physical or emotional stress. People who take and carry out tests can be observed without violating personal privacy.
Weaknesses in Oral Drug Tests
Weaknesses of oral drug testing include a limited time frame for drug detection and potential contamination from mishandling and the use of OTC drugs.
- Oral drug tests will only detect drugs used in the last few days, while blood collection and urine filtering will detect drugs that are metabolized. This might not be enough for some employers, probation officers, and substance abuse treatment facilities.
- People who take the test must be careful to avoid sample contamination. They must be trained in appropriate handling techniques and determine that the test subjects have not taken the drug, including OTC; mouthwash with ethyl alcohol; other liquids and foods; tobacco; or chew gum at least 10 minutes before the test.
Laboratory personnel, on the other hand, have completed training and special certifications for medical procedures that include drug screening. They know what questions should be asked to determine whether there are substances that can harm drug screening.
Ironically, some drugs cause dry mouth and interfere with the production of sufficient samples.
Are Oral Drug Tests Better?
Mouth drug tests look for drug use recently and are probably the best scenario from the point of view of the subject concerned. Most can abstain for several days. Urine tests, on the other hand, can detect usage a few days before testing. Some foods such as poppy seeds can trigger the screening of false-positive urine for opioids three days after consuming bagels or pastries.