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DNA Testing Glossary

Buccal Swab

‘Buccal’ mainly refers to the cheek or mouth region in human beings. Buccal swabbing thus refers to the act of using a swab to rub the inner side of the cheeks in order to collect any loose cells which will be used in various forms of medical analysis. The swab is the main collection device in this case and it resembles a Q-Tip, although typically larger in size.

Buccal swabbing for DNA testing

Generally speaking, Buccal generally refers to the mouth cavity, although most medical practitioners concentrate on the cheeks. The most common application for buccal swabbing is as a means of collecting DNA for a subsequent test in a laboratory. The swabs will collect cells from inside your mouth which will then be used to determine your biological makeup once the DNA is isolated from the cellular material. Buccal swabbing is known as the least invasive form of DNA collecting and is the preferable method for home DNA testing kits.

When conducting a buccal swab collection, it is critical that the only genetic material being deposited on the swab is the desired one.  Avoiding contamination is paramount during the collection process and most testing kits will instruct individuals on how to properly collect a buccal sample without letting other material get introduced.

With today’s technology there now exists the ability for scientists to evaluate DNA samples from a whole host of origins: bed sheets, cigarettes, tooth brushes, and so on.  Buccal swabbing however has continued to increase and is by far the most common method used to collect DNA samples.  Police departments in many US states now use buccal swabbing as an integrated step in the booking process of suspects.

 

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