When it comes to drug testing, mouth swab tests are the new kids on the block. They haven’t been around as long as more traditional urine and blood tests. You might start encountering them more often though because they’re cheaper and easier to administer. This is an advantage for employers who need to conduct tests on their employees regularly. So you’ll want to know how to pass a mouth swab drug test.
There are advantages and disadvantages to this kind of testing for marijuana users. Some aspects can work in your favour, making it easy to pass the test. But others can make it difficult to avoid a positive result. We’ll examine these, and what you can use, that will increase your chances of passing. In fact, on average marijuana users have a better chance of passing a saliva test than those who use other hard drugs.
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The Pros and Cons of Mouth Swab Tests
Mouth swab tests are commonly used for pre-employment checks, post-accident tests, when returning to duty and anytime drug use is suspected. There are a number of advantages to using a mouth swab test which makes them particularly appealing to employers:
- They’re easy to conduct. It doesn’t require a lab technician or a nurse to administer the test.
- It’s non-invasive. Unlike urine tests, there are no privacy or embarrassment issues.
- It’s hard to tamper with the test. You can’t get fake saliva (yet!) or use someone else’s saliva for the test.
- It’s quick. Results are available in 5 – 10 minutes.
- It’s cheaper. Although the kit itself may be more expensive than a urine test, it doesn’t involve hiring a special room or trained staff. So it’s much cheaper to conduct the test.
Those are a lot of advantages and at this point, you might be worried. But there are disadvantages too. And some of these are actually good news for marijuana users.
- They can only detect drugs that have been used within a short period of time before the test. This varies between 24 – 72 hours, depending on your usage.
- It’s not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) so it cannot be used in department of transport regulated federally mandated tests.
- It’s less sensitive to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than other tests like urine and blood.
- Measurements vary between the suppliers of the test kits. This means there is no fixed benchmark for interpreting the results.
A mouth swab test is actually one of the easiest tests to pass if you smoke weed. To do that you need to know some tricks, but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s look at how a saliva test works.
How An Oral Test Is Conducted
A saliva test can be performed in one of two ways. Some kits use test strips while others will use a swab that looks like a cross between a toothbrush and a cotton swab.
If a strip is used, it is placed in your mouth where it soaks up your saliva. The strip contains antigen dyes which detect the metabolites of various drugs. If metabolites are present, the test changes colour. If it doesn’t change colour, it means you’re drug-free.
In a swab test, the swab is scrubbed between the gums, the lower part of the cheek or under the tongue. It normally takes about two minutes for the swab to soak up enough saliva for the test. Then, the swab is put into a special device that interprets the results. They appear on a display within 10 minutes.
It really is that quick and easy. Unlike other tests, a mouth swab test doesn’t have to be sent to a lab for testing. The results are available immediately and the test is fairly accurate.
How to Pass a Mouth Swab Drug Test
You’ve probably already spotted one of the advantages of a mouth swab test. And that’s the fact that it can only tell if someone has used marijuana in the last 2 – 3 days. So obviously, if it’s been longer than that since you last lit up, you should be in the clear.
And, the beauty of a saliva test is that it screens for the presence of THC in your saliva. Most of the THC in your weed will have cleared from your blood within a few days. That’s why most other tests screen for a metabolite of THC. This is the toxin that remains after your liver has broken the THC. It’s commonly referred to as THC COOH.
But, a word of caution here. Heavy users may still test positive up to five days later, or even longer. If you know anything about how the body processes marijuana, you’ll know that THC tends to accumulate in the body because it’s stored in your fat cells. And from there, it’s continually released into your system in small amounts. Eventually, it will leave your body through your faeces and urine. This can take a very long time.
But remember, a saliva test only looks for the active ingredient of THC, and not the metabolite. Very little THC is excreted in your saliva in the first place. So if it has been more than a week or two since you last used, even heavy users will stand a very good chance of passing.
But if you’ve used marijuana a few hours before your test, your chances of passing will drop significantly. Because the tests are so quick and easy to administer your employer doesn’t have to give you any warning about it. In this case you may need to rely on an aid to help you out. Essentially, you want your mouth to be as clean as possible and there are some tricks you can use to remove any traces of THC.
There are a number of specially formulated mouthwashes that claim to be effective. With things like this, it’s best to do some research to determine if they’re really reliable. Read the reviews and check the date of the review. Labs are constantly developing their tests to be more sensitive and accurate. This could mean that something that worked in the past may no longer be effective.
The other problem with mouthwashes is that they require very careful timing. For starters, you’ll need to rinse your mouth with them several times before your test. And then it takes about 5 minutes for them to be effective. You then have a very small window in which to take the test to be sure of a negative result. They’re generally only good for 15 – 30 minutes. After that, they won’t be of any help to you.
What happens if you don’t know exactly when you’ll be taking the test? Will you be able to dash to the bathroom half a dozen times before that? Or, what if the test is delayed by more than half an hour? All that time you spent rinsing your mouth out will have been a complete waste.
If you are going to use a mouthwash, we’d recommend using it with something else, such a good 5-day detox programme. Unfortunately, this can’t be done that quickly and you’ll need a few days before your test to prepare thoroughly.
Oral Clear Chewing Gum
Oral Clear Chewing Gum is the go-to product for mouth swab test veterans. It’s extremely consistent at producing a negative result which makes it very popular and reliable. It’s also the only gum on the market for mouth swab tests.
Once you’ve removed the wrapping, and put it in your mouth, you have to bite it in half. There’s a liquid inside the gum that you spread around your mouth, without swallowing it. Then start chewing the gum, and after only 30 seconds it starts working. It will keep your saliva free of toxins for about 30 minutes. Which gives you plenty of time to ensure you pass your test. Although the packaging claims that it isn’t necessary to abstain from using marijuana before your test if you use Oral Clear, we still recommend abstaining for at least 24 hours to be on the safe side.
Gum is much easier to carry with you than a bottle of mouthwash. And it won’t attract any attention. Chewing gum isn’t as obvious as spending ages in the bathroom rinsing your mouth out. It’s also more effective than a mouthwash and you won’t have to use any other detox products with it.
Keep it with you all the time if you’re a regular user, and you’ll never have to worry about surprise drug tests tripping you up.
Extra Precautions and Advice
If your job is at stake you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure you pass your saliva test. The more time you have to prepare for the test, the better. Take every advantage available to you so that you don’t have to be nervous about your result. Here are some things you can do before and during the test to make sure you get the result you want.
Before the test:
- Stop using as soon as you have been informed about the test. It seems obvious, but this is particularly important for heavy users. Your chances of testing positive are much higher. So it makes sense to abstain from using marijuana as soon as you can.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes at least 48 hours before your test. Nicotine can sometimes cause a false-positive.
- Eat a high-fat meal at least 1 hour before the test. The theory behind this has to do with the fact that THC is stored in your fat cells. Eating a fatty meal will help to absorb more of the THC in your system. This may reduce the amount in your saliva to below the threshold level.
- Brush your teeth three times a day. Be sure to focus on the gum line, cheeks and tongue. These are the most common sites for a drug test, so you’ll want to keep them as clean as possible.
- Drink lots of water. This will help to keep the fluids in your mouth moving and flush away any toxins.
During the test:
- If possible, try to ignore the laboratory instructions. If you can contaminate the sample in some way it will be rejected and you’ll be asked to take a re-test at a later date. At the very least this might get you some extra time to prepare for the next test.
- If the examiner lets you hold the swab, don’t scrub in-between the teeth or along the gum line. Again, these are areas where toxins tend to settle.
- Use lemon, diluted hydrogen peroxide or vinegar to change the acidity level in your mouth. If the pH level is off, you sample might be considered contaminated and you’ll have to re-test.
- Chew on some ice. Again, this helps to rinse your mouth and dilute your saliva. It could also reduce the levels of THC below the threshold.
- Suck a few Altoid mints before the test. They could act as a masking agent to cover up the toxins in your saliva. It hasn’t been proven though, so don’t rely on it to pass your test.
Even if you fail a saliva test, you can take some hope from the fact that about 5% of the results are false-positives. Try telling the tester about any other prescription medications or supplements you’re taking. It’s quite possible that one of these could cause a false-positive.
If that fails, keep protesting your innocence and ask them to give you another kind of test. With any luck, this will take some time to organise and you can concentrate on detoxing yourself properly. Remember that saliva tests aren’t as legally sound as other drug tests. If you need to, consult a lawyer to help you prove your innocence.
As far as drug tests go, a saliva test is easy for marijuana users to pass. The test is not as good at detecting the presence of THC and the window period is much smaller. Do some research, use products that are proven to work, use some common sense, and you won’t have any problem passing your test.