Urine Drug Test vs Mouth Swab/Oral Saliva Drug Test


To make it easier for employees to be informed about drug testing methods, many companies have started using oral swabs as the method of choice, but that's not always the best option.

In this article, we will discuss Urine Drug Test versus Mouth Swab Drug Test and their differences.

Table Of Contents:

Overview of Urine Drug Test and Oral Saliva Drug Test

Urine Drug Test

  • Introduction

A urine drug test is a type of diagnostic medical testing. A small amount of a person's urine sample is tested for metabolites, enzymes, proteins, and other substances according to the instructions specified by an analytical chemist.

This type of chemical analysis can be used in medical diagnosis or monitoring treatments. It can also be used as a part of epidemiologic investigations and to detect doping use.

A urine drug test is a type of immunoassay. Immunoassay detects antigens or antibodies by using an antibody-antigen reaction to detect specific substances in urine or blood. The sample is analyzed, and certain substances may indicate disease or exposure to certain drugs.

To ensure the validity and reliability of test results, several quality control steps are performed before, during, and after testing specimens.

Urine drug tests typically detect the use of illicit drugs, prescription drugs with specific medical services, and "designer drugs" or "research chemicals.". Urine drug testing can also help to detect doping by athletes.

Urine Drug Test Benefits

  • Offers employers additional evidence of impairment due to drugs use among employees on company time/premises.
  • Extends the ability to detect the use of illegal drugs by up to seven days.
  • It helps employers prove incidents of drug use that are not related to work, such as marijuana (or other drugs) during working hours if the employee is taking time off for a court appearance or other personal matters related to employment.
  • Property damage and liability protection against negligent employees who may lose their jobs if an accident, injury, or incident occurs while under the influence of illegal drugs.
  • It helps the employee become drug-free and regain trust.
  • Provides a benefit to the employee in treatment as well as other insurance options.
  • The employer has a legal right to drug test its employees and terminates any employee who fails a drug test. This is for both safety reasons and also based on their right to protect their business from liability.
  • Employees have a right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure.
  • Immunity from workplace-related lawsuits for certain offenses related to drug use.

Oral Saliva Drug Test

  • Introduction

An oral saliva drug test is a simple, rapid screening for drugs in oral saliva. It is the most widely used of all drug tests. In this test, the oral fluid is collected by mouth swab and analyzed for drugs in the body.

Medications tend to accumulate in and are excreted from saliva at higher concentrations than urine or blood. This technique is used as a primary screening tool before drug confirmation tests are performed.

The Oral Saliva Drug Test is one of the most popular and affordable drug tests available. Many people are often unaware that saliva drug testing is a widely accessible and inexpensive way to check for drugs and alcohol in your system. The test can be done once or twice a day, depending on how often you want the information to be available.

Some doctors' offices, employers, schools, courts, and probation departments offer it, among others. It may be done on-site or sent to a laboratory for analysis. In some cases, the oral fluid sample is used to identify drugs in the body but not quantify their levels.

The collector mustn't know which one is positive and which one is a negative sample. Oral drug testing results are usually available within minutes.

Oral Saliva Drug Test Benefits

  • The oral saliva drug test gives an accurate reading of what can be in the person's system, unlike urine testing, which can present a skewed result due to other factors that could affect it when the sample was taken, like dehydration or exercise.
  • The oral saliva drug test is more private than urine testing. It can be taken anywhere without causing embarrassment. This also makes it ideal for random testing. - The model of oral saliva testing has been created to be 100 percent accurate when detecting the presence of several types of illegal drugs in a person's system.
  • In terms of privacy, the oral saliva drug test cannot be beaten.

Process Of Conducting A Urine Drug Test And Oral Saliva Drug Test

Urine Drug Test

The process of urine drug screening, or testing, involves using a group of tests to detect traces of illicit drugs or prescription medicines (usually both) in a person's body. The outcome of these tests can be used against individuals accused of committing illegal activities, such as the use or possession of drugs.

A laboratory conducts a urine drug test with the necessary equipment to analyze your sample and detect any drugs in it. The drug screening test can be performed in a variety of ways.

1) Collect a fresh, random urine specimen (men should avoid diuretics such as coffee or tea for twelve hours before the test).

2) Pour urine into one of the provided cups. The tester will use one cup to test an "adulterated sample" and the other cup to test your "unadulterated sample."

3) Provide your name and date of birth to the tester. The tester will then ask you to sign both copies of the testing form.

4) The tester will then perform the test on the "adulterated sample" cup.

Suppose any of these drugs are found in a contaminated sample. In that case, the student will be required to complete a follow-up testing process that will include but is not limited to being asked to provide a urine specimen in front of a school official and having that specimen screened for other drug use.

Oral Saliva Drug Test

An oral saliva drug test is the most common type of drug screening nowadays. It involves collecting a specimen from the person's mouth by placing a small absorbent pad under their tongue or chewing on it for 5 to 10 minutes, then waiting another 2-5 minutes for the saliva to be absorbed.

The Process to Conduct the Test

For a mouth swab drug test to be accurate, the person must first abstain from drug use. Many drugs can be present in saliva for up to as long as 90 days. Also, care must be taken that the person who does the test makes sure there is enough spit in their mouth when they are being tested.

If not, dilution could occur, and results may not be accurate. This test can tell if the person being tested is taking drugs right at the test time.

The process of doing this can be expensive, and sometimes other methods may be more appropriate; however, the results are usually fairly reliable.

Impairment Levels Of Urine Drug Test And Oral Saliva Drug Test

A urine drug test can detect the use of substances for up to 12 hours after taking. Drugs stay in the body for six to eight hours before being excreted, so if a person has smoked marijuana at 10 am and has a urine drug test at 1 pm, there will be a positive result.

The oral saliva drug test can detect the use of substances for up to 2 days after taking. Drugs stay in the body for four to six hours before being excreted, so if a person has smoked marijuana at 10 am and has an oral saliva test at 3 pm, there will be a positive result.

The impairment levels of urine drug test and oral saliva drug test are shown below.

Substance: Marijuana

When Detected: Urine - 1 - 15 days, Oral Saliva - 3 - 5 days

It Impairs:  Marijuana is a mood-altering drug that slows reaction time and impairs concentration and coordination.

Substance: Cocaine

When Detected: Urine - 2 - 4 days, Oral Saliva - 2 - 3 days

How It Impairs: Cocaine is a stimulant that increases alertness and heart rate and increases blood pressure, breathing rate, and body temperature. It can cause a "rapid run-on" in speech, euphoria, and irritability. Over time it may cause paranoia and delusions. Long-term use can lead to mood swings and irritability. Chronic users can experience depression, fatigue, insomnia, and trouble concentrating.

Substance: Amphetamines

When Detected: Urine - 2 - 8 days, Oral Saliva - 2 - 4 days

How It Impairs: Amphetamines are stimulants that increase alertness and heart rate and increase blood pressure, breathing rate, and body temperature. It can cause a "rapid run-on" in speech, euphoria, and irritability. Long-term use can lead to mood swings and irritability.

Substance: Methamphetamine

When Detected: Urine - 3 - 5 days, Oral Saliva - 3 - 4 days

How It Impairs: Methamphetamine is a stimulant that increases alertness and heart rate and increases blood pressure, breathing rate, and body temperature. It can cause a "rapid run-on" in speech, euphoria, and irritability. Long-term use can lead to mood swings and irritability.

Substance: PCP

When Detected: Urine - 3 - 7 days, Oral Saliva - 3 days

How It Impairs: PCP is commonly called "angel dust." People under the influence of PCP can appear to be in a stupor. They have very high breathing and heart rates that can become dangerously high, slow, or irregular. Physical strength and coordination are decreased significantly. Speech is highly slurred. Tremors and muscle spasms can occur.

Detection Windows Of Urine Drug Test Vs Oral Saliva Drug Test

Understanding the urine drug test and oral saliva drug test has become necessary for many industries such as law enforcement, medicine, transportation, and, more recently, employment. Detection windows or detection time is the amount of time that elapses until a detection appears in laboratory analysis when an agent (drug) is administered to an individual. Detection time is dependent on many factors, including the agent (medicine), detecting method, frequency of use, and body type. Detection time is also known as clearance or elimination half-life.

The detection time for a urine drug test can be anywhere from two to 10 days, depending on whether a laboratory test or an at-home test is performed. The typical detection time window for a urine drug test is three days, although individual results can vary based on body composition and hydration levels. Because of a urine drug test variability, employers can use the detection window to their advantage by randomly administering drug testing throughout a day or week. This provides the employer with more random testing and makes it difficult for employees to predict when tested.

In the simplest example, a urine sample is provided to a laboratory capable of measuring metabolites in that sample. If an employee has used cocaine in the past two days, then metabolite analysis would show cocaine in their urine for about three days after ingestion. As the days pass, older metabolites will have cleared out of the employee's system, so by the time the urine sample is tested, there is a meager percentage of cocaine in that sample. The amount of cocaine metabolite in an employee's system depends on many factors, such as how fast metabolites are removed from the body and how long they stay in the system.

An oral saliva drug test is more precise and provides instant results, detecting recent usage within just a few hours. Unlike urine drug screens, which require two days of testing to see current usage, an oral saliva drug screen can detect use within a few hours.

The oral swabbing procedure is easy and painless, and it can be administered by the person being tested. The stigma surrounding urine-based drug tests has largely been removed by newer technologies like the oral saliva test.

This is because it doesn't leave the evidence in the bloodstream after an individual consumes a substance, unlike alcohol breathalyzers or blood alcohol levels.

A saliva drug test is susceptible. It measures the presence of chemicals in the body associated with drug use, and it can detect recent usage within 24 to 48 hours.

Even when the detection window is closed, this test can still administer a second test six months later if needed. This test is very accurate and reliable, meaning it doesn't require specialized equipment or robust computer systems.

It is essential to adhere to the detection window when administering this test. This window, which can be anywhere from 24 hours to 48 hours, is known as how a drug can still be detected in the system after consumption.

What Are Immunoassay Screenings

Immunoassay screenings are a group of laboratory tests that measure the level of certain substances in your blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.

These immunoassays fall into two general categories - immunoassays that use antibodies (called "ELISA's) and those that use radioactivity (called "RIA's"). Immunoassay screens for drugs may be used to detect recent drug use, or they may be used to screen large groups of people for drug abuse.

Immunoassay drug screens detect the use of a limited number of drugs. Results from these tests are intended to be used as a screening test, not as an accurate way to determine if you have used or been exposed to a drug. Only laboratory tests specific to each drug can accurately determine if you have contacted that particular substance.

Do Urine Drug Test And Oral Saliva Drug Test Use Immunoassay Screenings

Drug metabolites are the products of metabolism, which are excreted in urine or saliva. Some drug metabolites are detectable for days, weeks, or even months after the last use of a drug.

Immunoassay screening is a fast and cost-effective way to detect the presence of drugs or their drug metabolites in urine, saliva, blood, or other bodily fluids. The most commonly used drug screens are the urine drug screen (UDS), the oral fluid drug test (OFDT), and the blood drug test (BDC).

The immunoassay screen is a laboratory procedure that measures the amount of a specific drug or its metabolites measured in the sample. When a prescription is initially introduced into the body, it may metabolize into several chemical compounds.

The body then excretes some of these chemicals in urine and also excreting them in saliva and blood. Suppose these chemicals are present in blood samples, oral fluid, or urine. In that case, they can be detected by an immunoassay test, which uses antibodies specially produced to bind with any of these substances specifically.

Alteration Results

The urine drug test is the fastest way to detect drugs in your system. But this convenience comes at a price: it can be skewed and inaccurate because of external sources of contamination. On the other hand, oral swab drug tests are much more complex and time-consuming; however, they offer more accurate results that are less likely to be impacted by external sources of contamination.


Both saliva and urine drug tests screen for certain drugs in the human body, but they do not screen for all drugs. Saliva drug tests screen for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.

Saliva drug tests are used during the pre-employment phase of employment because they can be administered to employees involved in job interviews and those who work in safety-sensitive positions. Saliva testing has a 90% accuracy rate meaning that the employee will fail if using illegal drugs.

On the other hand, urine drug tests screen for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines. Urine testing is also used in the pre-employment phase and post-accident investigations to detect drug use. It has a 95% accuracy rate meaning that the employee will fail if they use illegal drugs.

So why are saliva and urine drug tests rarely administered at random? One reason is that it takes a long time for saliva or urine to dry into a sample size. The sample needs to be dried before it can be tested.

The test also needs to be analyzed quickly so that the result would not lose accuracy. So, the fact that saliva and urine samples take too long to dry and examine makes them impractical for random drug tests.

Another reason is that saliva and urine tests are expensive to do. Saliva samples cost around $100 per test, while urine samples cost about $15 per test. To make the screening process more economical, other screening methods have been developed.

This article concludes that the urine drug test is better than the oral drug test. This is because saliva can dilute drugs in the system, and there were some problems with those saliva tests that they were not able to detect certain types of drugs. It's advised to do a urine drug test over a saliva drug test if you have other options.

Older Post Newer Post