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Oral Fluid vs. Urine Drug Testing

Why Choose Oral Fluid versus Urine Drug Testing?

Oral fluid testing can detect drugs anytime, from immediately after the most recent use, up to three days after use. Conventional drug testing with urine cannot accurately detect usage in the first four hours after use, thus making saliva superior for post-accident testing.

Beating Cheating

Drug abusers have found many ways to "beat" a urine test, but oral fluid drug testing eliminates this risk of cheating. All oral drug tests must be administered under supervised observation so "beating the system" is much more difficult.

Eliminate False Negatives

Oral fluid samples are first screened using an enzyme-linked immunoassay technology (ELISA), a proven method for drug screening. Our ELISA oral fluid screening for Cocaine, Opiates and Methamphetamine is 60% more sensitive than that of urine instant tests, reducing the number of false negatives for those drugs.

Eliminate False Positives

A sample testing positive is then run with Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS), the most sophisticated and accurate confirmation method available. LC/MS/MS is 100 to 1,000 times more precise than Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry, reducing the risk of false positives in confirmed results. See more about screening and confirmation

Comparative Study - Oral Fluid versus Urine Drug Testing

This comparative study exemplifies the accuracy and dependability of Oral Fluid Drug Testing. It is important to note that the Oral Fluid positive rates are higher in most categories, with significantly more positives in THC, Cocaine, and Amphetamines.


Drug Category Oral Fluid
Jan-Oct 2001
(n=77,218)
Urine (DOT)
Jan-Dec 2001
(n=1,000,000)
THC 3.22% 1.72%
Cocaine 1.12% 0.60%
Opiates 0.23% 0.26%
PCP 0.03% 0.05%
Amphetamines 0.47% 0.29%
Total (%) 5.06% 2.92%
Source: Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 25, November/December 2002

Saliva THC v Urine THC - How long?

In general, what is in the blood, is in the saliva. If a drug is smoked, like THC, residual THC may appear in the oral cavity for about 3 minutes after ingestion, resulting in higher positive levels. THC psychoactive effects are seen for 3 to 5 hours after normal drug use, although further effects for longer periods have been identified. Delta 9 THC, the parent, and 11 hydroxy 9 delta 9 THC, the metabolite, are the psychoactive compounds.

Saliva THC

Delta 9 THC is the parent compound. When found in saliva, this means impairment because the drug has entered the blood stream and affected the brain, thus affecting motor skills. Levels we have measured in saliva in the lab range from 0.5ng/mL to 150ng/mL (1 ng/mL = 1 part per billion). All of these mean the parent compound is available to the brain. The higher the level, the more drug ingested or the more recently the drug was used. Delta 9 THC has been measured in oral fluid up to 72 hours after smoking.

Urine THC

11 nor 9 carboxy THC is the major metabolite found in urine. A single dose of THC may be detected in urine for an average of 24 to 120 hours. In most peer reviewed papers, the highest doses produced positive screens for up to 120 hours, with most papers reporting an average of 26 to 33 hours. (These data are taken from over 80 peer reviewed papers). Urine excretion of THC does not decrease consistently so urine screenings may fluctuate between negative and positive during the detection window.


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