Last updated: September 25, 2023
Neither mouth swab drug testing or using the hair method is as widely used as the urine test for employee drug testing. But if everyone learns the advantages—that may change!
It’s most likely due to the fact that in the early days of employee drug testing the urinalysis was the only method available. When the other two options appeared on the market deemed to be every bit as accurate, they hadn’t stood the test of time. That’s no longer the case though. Continued advances in drug testing technology coupled with the many advantages of mouth swab drug testing are causing employers to give it a second look.
Scientists invented both the hair follicle and mouth swab tests post urine test. We mentioned that the urine test was the only drug testing method available back in the day. Over time, though, employers caught on to the fact that employees discovered ways to “get over” on the company drug test.
Achieving a false negative was as easy as drinking lots of water just prior to reporting to the test facility. Seriously. In fact, although it’s no more than a legend of days gone by at this point, searching for ways to pass a drug test still pops this technique at the top of the list.
Other viable ways to test for drug use were needed. It wasn’t long until mouth swab drug testing hit the market. When compared with the urine drug test, the advantages of using oral fluids to test for drugs far outweigh it.
By the way, even though advances in technology now detect diluted or falsified urine test results, the nature of the urine test still makes it unpleasant.
It’s so easy
The ease of use factor makes the mouth swab test perfect for random drug testing. Moreover, many law enforcement agencies across the nation are using it when suspecting impairment during traffic stops and in accident situations.
To administer the test, the technician places a mouth swab between the test subject’s lower cheek and gum. It remains there until saturated with saliva. The process usually takes up to 5 minutes but can take longer.
All that’s required to take the test is holding a swab in place in your mouth. That means that no one’s going to:
- Have you pee in a cup
- Cut your hair
- Draw blood
All things considered, mouth swab drug testing is easily the least invasive drug test of all.
They detect recent drug use
The window of detection is much shorter, with an overall window that lasts up to 72 hours depending on drug type. However, these tests can detect drug use within minutes of using which makes them beneficial for random and post-accident testing situations.
You can administer this test anywhere
As far as privacy goes, the mouth swab test ranks at the other end of the spectrum! Urine tests require the use of a private bathroom.
Mouth swab tests don’t.
Mouth swab tests are less expensive than hair follicle drug tests. They provide accurate results and the have the quickest turn around time from the lab.
No way to make a switch
Because the test subject is never out of the administrator’s sight, it’s impossible to tamper with or switch the sample with another.
What you see is what you get
Just like the urine and hair drug tests, if you search for ways to beat a mouth swab test, the internet provides you with page after page of claims. Companies manufacture chewing gums, mouthwashes, and toothpaste claiming that they’ll mask drug use long enough for you to pass the test.
You can find home remedies as well. They range from simply using a specific brand of regular toothpaste to gargling bleach. Hopefully, no one even considers trying that! They may well get out of taking the drug test, but who knows what emergency staff will find when they get to the hospital!
Our bodies are constantly producing saliva. Saliva enters the mouth and saturates the swab.
If you’re alive, there’s no way to stop that process from happening.
Tried and true
In November 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released guidelines for using mouth swab drug testing as an approved employee drug testing method for federally regulated employees. It doesn’t replace urine testing, but instead is an alternative for employers who choose to use it.
The HHS planned to make mouth swab testing an option for employers for years. The department put it on hold until after the HHS gathered enough long term data to make its final decision.
The new policy went into effect on January 1st. It’s approved for all types of federally regulated drug testing.
Other federal agencies, such as the DOT, have yet to announce plans to add mouth swab drug testing as an option for urine testing to their regulations. There is currently a request to replace the urine drug test with the hair follicle test in the works though. The DOT expects a final decision soon.
If the DOT does approve mouth swab testing, many employers may be making the switch. This test has proven to be as accurate as both urine and hair tests, is cost-effective, super easy to use, and there’s no way to fake the results.
A word to the wise
Even though the benefits presented make using oral fluids testing something to consider, it might be prohibited by state law.
Currently, these states don’t allow oral fluid drug testing.
- West Virginia
Kentucky doesn’t prohibit oral fluids testing, but it requires permission to be granted.
Also, if you’re adding the mouth swab test to any or all of your drug testing policies, make sure it’s well documented and employees get informed before you start.
Employers drug test their employees for safety’s sake. Employees who use drugs are a threat to the workplace. It’s more likely that they’ll be involved in an accident for one thing. They’re also absent more frequently, visit the doctor more often, and there can be a noticed decrease in productivity levels.
If your state isn’t on the above list and you’re not regulated to use only the urine drug test, the advantages of the mouth swab drug test could make it a contender in your fight against drugs in the workplace.