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Why You Should Care About Oral Fluid (Saliva) Drug Testing

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Why You Should Care About Oral Fluid (Saliva) Drug Testing

Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet

Previously, we looked at and compared the three most popular types of drug testing available today (you can read it here). Let’s now take a deeper look into what Oral Fluid (Saliva) drug testing can do for your business.

Historically, the clinical use of oral (saliva) testing occurred as early as 1836 in patients with bronchitis. More recent studies have focused on detection of steroid hormones and antibodies in the saliva.

orasure oral saliva sway drug test

Oral (Saliva) Testing is Non-Invasive

Oral testing has grown in popularity over the last decade due to one simple fact, oral testing is non-invasive for you and your employees. In minutes, a sample can be collected nearly anywhere. Sensitive drug testing issues, like gender, observation, and privacy often associated with urine collection are eliminated for everyone involved. The results are as accurate as a blood test, but without pain or needles.

This testing method offers confidential lab-based drug test results from an easy-to-use oral fluid collection method. By using saliva instead of urine, donors can collect a small sample that is collected under direct supervision, reducing the likelihood of tampering or a donor challenge later in the screening process. Oral testing is difficult for a donor to cheat or adulterate their sample and is considered a tamper-resistant screening method.


Oral (Saliva) Testing has a Shorter Detection Window

Oral testing has the ability to detect drug use within the first few hours, a window of time that can be missed by urine testing, and to detect most drugs from 1 to 4 days after last use.  In some cases, this method will return a positive result immediately after use. This makes oral testing ideal for a broad range of testing situations, such as pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, or post-accident testing. The early detection window is also very useful in dosage monitoring.


Oral (Saliva) Testing Detects the Parent Compound of a Drug

All drugs, pharmaceutical and otherwise, undergo a series of bio-chemical reactions in the body. These reactions release the parent compound and then gradually degrade the drug into slightly different structures (metabolites).

Urine testing detects these metabolites that take time to pass through the system. Oral testing, on the other hand, detects the parent compound and will often detect drugs immediately after use.

Levels of Detection and Concentration:

  • Higher levels of the parent compound indicate higher levels of the drug contained within the body.
  • Increased concentration in saliva is because the drug is still in the process of metabolism.
  • Low concentration in the urine is due to the fact that the drug is still undergoing metabolism to be showing up in the urine.
  • So, a high saliva concentration and low urine concentration is a positive indication of recent drug usage.


Oral (Saliva) Testing Process

Oral collections are easy to perform and are typically conducted at the place of employment, reducing lost productivity.

Testing usually begins after a 10 minute direct observation period during which the donor will not smoke, consume food, or drink any fluids. This helps prevent adulteration of the sample by using dilution techniques.

The collector places the collection pad in the donor’s cheek and gum for at least two minutes. Once the absorbent collection pad is saturated, it is placed in a vial, the handle of the collection device is snapped off at the rim of the vial, the vial is sealed, and the donor initials the seal. The entire process takes just 5 minutes.

Our dependable turnaround times drive timely hiring decisions. Oral fluid samples are sent by overnight delivery and are typically tested on the day they arrive at our laboratory. Negative results are often released within 24 hours. Non-negative screens undergo confirmatory testing and are typically released within an additional 24-72 hours.


Oral Testing in your Company Drug Testing Policies

Oral drug testing will never replace urine drug testing or hair drug tests because each type of test gives you different information. Hair testing detects drug use over a period of months, urine testing detects drug use for a period of days, and saliva drug tests measure a drug history in hours.

CleanFleet can help you include this testing method in your drug testing program, while making sure your policies are staying compliant with local, state, and federal laws. For more details or if you are interested in our On-Site option, call us at 503-479-6082.

02 Jun, 16

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There are 1 comment. on "Why You Should Care About Oral Fluid (Saliva) Drug Testing"


  • ***John Williams*** says: posted on 05 Sep, 2017

    Great Blog with useful information. Looking forward to making more great Oral Fluid (Saliva) Drug Testing connections. Thank for this wonderful post.


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