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The Complete Guide To Saliva Drug Tests

What is a Saliva Drug Test?

A saliva drug test is a drug screen that tests for substances in saliva.

A saliva drug test can also be called a cotton swab test, oral drug testing, or mouth swab test.


Standard collection methods include using a swab stick attached to an absorbent pad or sponge to clean the inside of the cheeks and under the tongue. You can also collect saliva by draining, spitting, and sucking.

An oral drug test can be done on-site at an office, at the site of an accident, or in a designated lab or specimen collection location.

The individual being screened might be asked to stop eating or drinking for 10 minutes before the test to ensure greater accuracy. The accuracy of instant saliva drug test tests can be affected by food, drinks, medications, and mouthwash.

The specimen will be either immediately analyzed at the site or sent to a laboratory to determine whether there are any controlled substances in the body.

If the initial screening yields a negative result, further confirmation screening at a laboratory will be done, and a medical review may be conducted to verify accuracy. This is a crucial step, and this step is essential. An MRO (Medical Review Officer) can confirm the person’s medical records being tested, and they may also contact their doctor or pharmacy for prescription verifications.

What is the accuracy of a mouth swab drug test?

The accuracy of a mouth swab drug test can be perfect, but only if it is done correctly. A mouth swab drug test is usually performed by an administrator or under supervision, making it harder for the person being tested not to alter the specimen.

Many factors can affect the accuracy of instant oral fluid test kits, instant fluid testing devices, or lab testing. One study showed that mobile saliva testing systems were 97.5% more accurate than saliva tests conducted in a laboratory. The accuracy of a saliva test may vary depending on the method used to collect specimens, drug type, concentration, and whether saliva flow was stimulated. Citric acid candy and chewing gum, which are oral fluid production agents, have been shown to lower levels of codeine by two to sixfold, methamphetamine by two to fourfold, and cocaine by fivefold.


There is evidence that THC is stored in the oral cavity when cannabis smoking occurs. High THC content can also be detected in saliva samples taken immediately after smoking, and a slower decline over 12 hours follows the rapid clearing.

Passive cannabis exposure, when a person inhales marijuana smoke from another user, will result in negative drug tests within one hour. If there is no evidence of recent active use, a positive saliva drug test for THC will indicate that the person has been exposed.

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