Saliva Drug Tests are relatively new and come in varying forms with a range of degrees of accuracy. The basic premise like blood tests is to test for residual traces of drugs in the saliva which is a refined version of plasma.
Typically, a high-quality Saliva Drug Test would be able to detect traces of opiates, cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, alcohol, barbiturates and phencyclidine for up to 72 hours – with the number of hours varying for each drug type.
The test strips have a set of colored bands, each corresponding to a type of drug. The person being tested wets the test strip with their saliva and should there be a trace of any of the drugs the appropriate band would change color. At least theoretically the Saliva Drug Test can detect different drugs from a few minutes after ingestion for cocaine to an hour after ingestion for opiates to at least 12 hours.
Saliva tests are gaining popularity among employers primarily because they are low cost and do not require any special equipment, space or resource. The results are also available within a few minutes. Compared to the traditional blood and urine tests, they are less invasive and time-consuming but unlike the blood and urine, traces of drugs show up in saliva for a shorter duration, and a habitual drug user will test clean after 3 or 4 days of abstaining before the test.
Since Saliva Drug Testing is relatively new, the sensitivity of the tests is still being worked on. Many people claim that chewing gum or mint, using mouthwash and brushing one’s mouth repeatedly before testing can help a drug user test clean. Increasing sensitivity of the tests, however, makes this a risky proposition. The tests are supposed to detect secretions that cannot be washed away with mouthwash. Chewing gum, in particular, is a mistake since it will most likely add chemicals to the oral secretions not remove drug traces.