For years, saliva testing has been used to test for drugs and alcohol. But what exactly does it mean? Here’s everything you need to know about the science behind this method.
The use of saliva testing dates back to the early 1980’s when a group of scientists decided to look into the possibility of using saliva samples as a way to detect blood alcohol content (BAC), which is why we call it “saliva testing”. Since then, numerous studies have been conducted on saliva sampling, and today, it is widely considered to be one of the most accurate ways to determine BAC.
It is important to note that the term “saliva testing” refers to all methods where saliva is tested rather than just direct testing of saliva itself. Saliva testing can also include breathalyzers, which are devices that can measure BAC by analyzing breath samples.
As with any technology, saliva testing can be used in various contexts, including sports, medicine, law enforcement and education. When it comes to its use within these fields, it is not uncommon for saliva testing to take place before or after an event. In addition, saliva testing is often employed during training or practice sessions so that players or students can monitor their own performance. It is also possible for saliva testing to be performed on a daily basis in order to help athletes stay healthy and injury free.
Before getting into the specifics of saliva testing, there are several things you should know about the science behind this type of analysis. First, saliva tests cannot directly measure blood alcohol levels. Instead, they measure concentrations of specific chemicals present in both saliva and blood. This is why many people refer to saliva testing as indirect BAC measurements.
Second, saliva testing can only provide information relative to certain substances, such as alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, marijuana and nicotine. Because of this, it is generally accepted that saliva testing cannot accurately measure BAC below 0.04 percent.
With that being said, saliva testing is still considered to be one of the most reliable ways to determine whether someone is intoxicated or not. One thing that makes saliva testing particularly appealing is the fact that it is noninvasive, meaning it doesn’t require much physical contact between the subject and the tester. As a result, saliva testing is generally more comfortable than other methods of testing, such as breathalyzing, urine testing or blood sampling.
Because saliva testing is noninvasive, it is also less likely to cause harm and discomfort to the subject. That said, if you want to learn more about what saliva testing is and how it works, keep reading!
What Is Saliva?
To understand how saliva testing works, it helps to first examine salivary glands and their role in producing saliva. Like every other organ in the body, the salivary glands contain specialized cells called acinar cells. These cells produce saliva by secreting proteins, enzymes and small molecules.
In humans, there are two main types of salivary glands: sublingual glands and parotid glands. The former is located under your tongue while the latter is found inside your cheeks and mouth.
The major function of saliva is to lubricate food and drink, but it also plays a significant role in maintaining proper oral hygiene by helping to clean teeth and prevent plaque from forming. In addition, saliva contains antimicrobial agents that help to protect against bacteria and viruses that may enter our mouths.
When it comes to saliva testing, each person produces a unique mixture of saliva. For example, the composition of saliva varies depending on gender, age, diet, health and emotional state. However, despite these differences, the basic components of saliva remain unchanged.
These include water, sodium chloride (salt), urea, mucin, inorganic compounds and organic acids. Water is the largest contributor to saliva production, followed closely by sodium chloride and urea. Other commonly found compounds include calcium, phosphate, carbon dioxide, bicarbonate and lactate. Organic acids like lactic acid are also present in saliva but typically only at low levels.
The exact composition of saliva will vary slightly depending on the particular substance being measured. For example, the concentration of urea in saliva rises and falls rapidly within minutes after consuming a meal because it is released from muscle tissue. Similarly, the levels of potassium and chloride in saliva rise and fall rapidly following intense exercise due to changes in the sweat rate. In contrast, the levels of sodium and glucose in saliva do not change significantly over time.
Because saliva is produced continuously throughout the day, it is possible to collect samples by simply collecting saliva at multiple times throughout the day. However, this process is labor intensive and requires the tester to collect the sample themselves and then send it off for analysis. In contrast, saliva testing kits allow subjects to collect samples using preloaded cotton swabs that are sent out for analysis.
This is why saliva testing kits are preferred by companies who wish to perform saliva testing outside of the lab. Furthermore, some medical professionals prefer saliva testing kits because they are faster and easier to use than traditional methods, thereby making them ideal for situations where frequent samples must be taken.
What Are the Advantages of Saliva Testing Kits?
The primary advantage of saliva testing kits is that they make it easy to conduct saliva testing quickly and easily without needing to collect samples by hand yourself. Many kits come with standardized collection systems that enable you to collect samples from anywhere in the world without having to mail the sample to a laboratory for analysis.
Furthermore, many of these devices are designed with built-in protections against contamination and cross-contamination, ensuring that results are accurate and consistent no matter where you are. In fact, the best saliva testing kits will even tell you how long you have been waiting for a return email since the kit was dispatched, which can give you an idea of the overall turnaround time associated with the device.
Of course, another key advantage of saliva testing kits is that they are incredibly cost effective, especially compared to traditional methods of testing. The cost of a saliva test kit varies depending on the brand and the features that it offers. If you are concerned about the accuracy of the test, you can always purchase a second kit to confirm the results. However, this will obviously add to the cost. Overall, a saliva test kit is a relatively inexpensive way to test for drugs in your system. It is also a very easy and comfortable way to do so. For more information, See it here.
How Does Saliva Testing Work?
As mentioned above, saliva testing involves measuring the concentration of specific compounds in saliva. With that being said, there are three common forms of saliva testing: direct screening, enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and electrochemical detection (ECD).
Direct screening uses chemical reactions that involve the formation of color complexes between a specific compound and a dye solution. In contrast, EIA and ECD rely on antibodies to bind with specific compounds in saliva. Once bound, these antibodies trigger a reaction that causes beads to release a fluorescent signal.
Regardless of the form of saliva testing, the process starts with a single drop of saliva collected from the subject’s cheek. Then, a special paper strip is inserted into the device, which is placed in a sealed chamber where it undergoes a series of chemical reactions.
Once the strips are complete, the tester can either view the entire strip or read off any individual data points. These data points are then analyzed by software algorithms that use pattern recognition techniques to identify specific compounds. Once identified, the concentration of the compound is calculated based on standard curves provided by manufacturers.
With this information, the tester can then generate reports detailing information like the presence or absence of certain compounds along with corresponding concentrations.