The cheek swab DNA test is one of the most common kinds of DNA tests. It can be carried out at a lab, or you can complete one yourself with a DNA testing kit. Plenty of labs across the US and worldwide use a cheek swab, also known as a buccal swab, to test DNA for all kinds of research. From family trees to criminal trials, a cheek swab DNA test is simple and effective. But how effective? Even now, some people are suspicious of how accurate a cheek swab DNA test can really be. Dynamic DNA explores more in today’s blog.
How a Cheek Swab DNA Test Works
Taking a sample in a cheek swab DNA test is simple. A DNA testing kit that involves a cheek swab will come with all the equipment you need, or you can have one carried out by a professional in a lab. A small swab (like a Q-Tip) is used to scrape the inside of your cheek. If you’re doing it yourself, be careful not to get too much saliva on the swab.
A saliva test is different from a cheek swab test, so you only need to rub the swab on the tissue inside your cheek. It’s this tissue that carries the cells that are then used to perform the DNA test. These cells are analyzed for information that can reveal anything from your ancestral history to what kind of diet is best for your body.
Can You Trust Cheek Swab Results?
Generally, yes. Cheek swab test results are reliable as long as the swab is done properly. If you’re doing a cheek swab with a home testing kit, you need to make sure you carefully follow the instructions to avoid doing it wrong or contaminating the sample. If you have the swab carried out in a lab by a professional, a cheek swab can be as reliable as an actual blood test — just without the needle!
While mistakes, false positives, and false negatives do happen from time to time, we take steps to ensure the accuracy of the test results. This involves quality assurance to ensure reliable genetic tests and adequate DNA samples.
If a machine finds a mutation, we always double- or triple-checked to ensure accuracy. In some instances, our scientists will perform a cross-check, which is performing another test if they doubt the first result. We also work to ensure samples don’t become mixed up or contaminated.
The Benefits of a Cheek Swab Test
Not having to deal with a typical blood test is certainly a big advantage of a cheek swab DNA test for a lot of the people who visit Dynamic DNA Labs. Aside from avoiding a needle, a cheek swab DNA test also has the benefit of being quick, simple, and affordable. In most cases, you can reliably carry out a cheek swab yourself and get accurate results.
Cheek swab DNA tests have many advantages over other types of DNA tests. For one, the person having their cheek swabbed doesn’t have to worry about needles, and a cheek swab is completely painless.
A cheek swab is also one of the fastest ways of DNA collection methods, and it's easy enough for anyone to swab their cheek and get an accurate result. With saliva samples, it can take much time to collect 2 milliliters, especially those with conditions that cause dry mouth.
People use the results of our DNA tests for a wide variety of reasons. DNA is a map that shows the genetic makeup of organisms, so it can be used to determine familial ties, such as DNA paternity testing and siblingship tests. Another common use for DNA testing at Dynamic DNA Labs is to trace their ancestry, as well as the migration patterns of their ancestors.
Finally, our DNA testing service can help our clients discover which fitness plans, diets, and skin care regimens are best suited for your genetic makeup. We can even see how your personality, mood, and behavior are influenced by your genes.
Outside of our lab’s offered services, in the field of archaeology, DNA tests keep records of the progression of life on the planet. These records are then used as references scientists use to track how species change over thousands or even millions of years. In space research, scientists conduct DNA tests on various swab samples brought back to Earth.
Collecting DNA: Cheek Swab vs Saliva Tube
As a method for collecting DNA samples, both the cheek swab and the saliva tube are non-invasive methods. However, disadvantages of a saliva tube include a lower DNA yield and a greater risk of contamination of bacteria.
With a saliva test, you must also spit repeatedly into a tube until you've provided enough for the test sample. Some people have trouble producing enough saliva for a spit test, which is why a cheek swab test is an easier option. A cheek swab picks up cell tissue, which is used for a DNA test. Lab technicians analyze those cheek cells for information on a wide variety of uses from crime scene evidence to personalized pain management options.
Collecting DNA: Cheek Swab vs Blood Samples
While cheek swabs and saliva samples are easy and painless, sometimes blood samples are required. While nobody likes being jabbed with a needle, blood tests are one of the most accurate methods for DNA testing.
What to Know Before Taking a DNA Test
The first thing you should understand before taking a DNA test is that no results are 100% conclusive, even if the swab tests are repeated. If someone tests negative for a genetic disease, that does not necessarily mean they will not develop that condition. It also cannot determine the severity of the disease or if the individual in question will be symptomatic. It can only tell you if you have a genetic predisposition for a disease.
As for ancestry DNA tests, what curious people need to know is that if we have a limited number of markers and gene pools for a specific region, then results may be skewed.
How Is Genetic Testing Performed?
Genetic testing is done by collecting a sample that contains the DNA of a specific individual. This sample can be taken from a cheek swab, saliva sample, blood sample, skin sample, hair sample, or amniotic fluid sample. For our purposes, we only offer cheek swab tests.
Once a person sends a DNA sample to our laboratory, our technicians observe the proteins, amino acids, and chromosomes. We then perform tests to see if the individual the sample belongs to will develop a disease or pass on a chromosomal disorder. One such example of a test is for the BRCA1 or BRCA 2 gene, which is a genetic test for breast cancer or ovarian cancer risk.
Why Does Genetic Testing Take So Long?
One of the most significant factors in why genetic testing takes so long is the quality of the DNA sample. While a properly stored DNA sample can last years before testing, DNA does degrade if it is improperly stored. Also, sometimes laboratories have to check DNA from someone who died, and sometimes those samples are of poor quality. If the DNA from a deceased person is of poor quality, it might triple the time it takes to complete an analysis, or the analysis can’t be completed if there isn’t enough DNA.
Also, if the laboratory is looking for a genetic mutation with no family history, then it also takes longer for them to find their results as they may need to analyze more than one gene, which can take months to complete.
At Dynamic DNA Labs, our state-of-the-art resources and experienced team allows us to provide the fastest turnaround times in the industry. In as little as 3-4 weeks, you’ll have your results at your fingertips on our secure, HIPAA-compliant online portal.
Contact Dynamic DNA Labs About DNA Testing
If you’re looking for a reliable way to find out more about yourself — whether it’s to trace your ancestry or to find out more about your health and nutrition — Dynamic DNA can help. We offer in-house DNA testing in Springfield, Missouri, so you don’t have to rely on outsourced services to find out more about your DNA. Take a look at our DNA testing products or contact Dynamic DNA Labs today.