If you’re planning on doing DNA paternity testing, one of the first questions you think of may be, ‘Is this going to hurt?’ As a top DNA paternity testing lab, we get asked all the time whether there are going to be needles involved. The answer is simply, ‘Probably not.’ The overwhelming majority of post-natal paternity tests are conducted using cheek (or buccal) cells, collected with a painless swab.
Here’s why blood, spit, or cheek cells may be used for DNA tests and also why cheek cells are the method of choice for most DNA paternity testing.
Is Spit Used for DNA Paternity Testing?
Saliva (spit) can be used for paternity testing, but there are some definite pros and cons:
- It is an excellent source of testable genetic material and a large amount of DNA can be collected in a relatively small sample of saliva
- It is non-invasive, meaning there are no needles involved and no discomfort
- It is extremely difficult to get a pure saliva sample from a newborn, so the risk of contamination during collection can be high
- Testing materials (a vial plus specialized liquid for DNA preservation) are expensive when compared to cheek swabs, and that means higher testing costs for the customer
- If an exclusion (or ‘not the father’) result is obtained and the lab only has one vial of the customer’s saliva to work from, results cannot be confirmed using a separate sample
Why Use Blood for Paternity Testing?
DNA is DNA, so there’s no difference between the genetic material in a blood sample and that collected by other methods. For the most part, DNA collected through cheek swabs or saliva is all that’s needed for fast and accurate paternity testing. But there are times when a blood sample is necessary:
- For a prenatal paternity test, it is necessary to take a blood sample from the mother. Cells from the fetus free-float in the mother’s bloodstream and so a DNA profile can be obtained from these fetal cells and compared with the possible father’s. The possible father’s DNA is obtained via buccal swabbing
- In certain cases when the possible father has passed away, a coroner or hospital may have retained a blood card containing the deceased’s DNA. That sample can be tested to help determine paternity
- The risk of accidental sample contamination is extremely low
- Needles are involved, so if you are squeamish or highly-sensitive to pain, this isn’t the optimal choice
- Blood samples require refrigeration, which is inconvenient at best
Why are Cheek Swabs the Preferred Method for DNA Collection?
When you buy a DNA paternity test kit at a retail location, it comes with three sets of three cheek swabs. Buccal swabs aren’t like regular cotton swabs: they’re specially-designed to effectively collect and trap cheek cells within the fibers. There are reasons why we use these swabs for most tests instead of any other method:
- Swabs are effective, yet inexpensive. Since three swabs per participant are included in the kit, the lab gets all the DNA it needs to perform the testing and the price of the test is low for the customer
- It is a non-invasive method of collection: absolutely no needles or pain
- Unlike collecting saliva, it is easy to collect good DNA samples from the littlest child-even a newborn!
- Swabs do not require refrigeration. In fact, after samples are collected, they are good for up to six months as long as the swabs are kept in a cool, dry place
- It is easier and faster for a lab to extract DNA from a cheek swab than from blood
- It is possible for cheek swabs to become contaminated if customers do not handle them per kit instructions. If this happens, however, it doesn’t affect results because it will be caught at the lab level during testing. The customer is then asked to collect new samples before testing resumes.
The Bottom Line
As you can see from these comparisons, the pros of using buccal swabs far outweigh the cons, which is why they are the DNA collection of choice for fast, accurate, and affordable paternity testing.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! If you have questions about paternity tests or other DNA testing services, please contact our Client Support Center at 888-404-4363, Mon-Fri from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM Eastern Time. Our friendly, expert representatives are ready and happy to help. Get answers anytime by visiting our Help Center.
I need to run a paternity test on my “teenage daughter” however, I do not want her to know. I was able to “check her blood sugar” and now have a blood sample on the test strip. Can this be used? There aren’t any chemicals on the test strip that I know of. Please advise Thank You
Hi, Tim. The $89 lab fee is for testing via cheek swabs only, however we do sometimes allow customers to submit a different type of sample. Keep in mind that this costs more since the DNA extraction is more labor-intensive. Without seeing it in person, it’s hard to say whether the blood sample on the test strip would be enough for the extraction. I suggest you contact us directly at 888-404-4363 to speak with one of our experts.
Hi I need answers to a question.
Is it possible that a paternity test can come back 0 percent when the person is really the father?
Hi, Ronnie. Test results are guaranteed correct for the samples we are given. So if you’re sure the DNA samples we received a for the possible father and the child, then results are reliable.
Confused Mom says
Yes it is because I recently got a 0% result with my new baby but I was not with no other man when I conceived so there’s no other possibility. If there was I wouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to say it. I am woman enough to tell the truth plus I am not committed to anyone I am single. I just know 1,000% he’s her father but their DNA markers only match on 13 loci. I am going to do a grandparentage DNA test on his mom cause he might have some sort of rare blood conditions that affect his paternity results. I know his mom will come back as having relations to my baby…
A rare blood condition would not affect a paternity test. The only way a result would come back with a 0% probability of paternity if the man really is the biological father is if he submitted someone else’s DNA as his own. You may want to consider doing a legal, witnessed test.
Tom Wheeler says
Can you do dna tests off blood strips from blood sugar test strips to determine paternity. If so, how much would it cost?
Hi, Tom. It is possible to extract DNA from blood-sugar test strips. The cost is $150 to determine viability of the sample, then the usual lab fee for the test you want to do.
did you test it?Did it work?
So I did a relative dna test with my daughter & her alleged “grandmother” , she was only 5 days old when they swabbed her , she still had white parts in her mouth from the new born cover. Not once they swabbed me . The probability of relatedness is 0.6% .. about 7 markers matched yet I still don’t get it if its good enough or not .. Was my baby too young for the testing , or did we chose the wrong dna test and was me not being apart of the testing affect in any way?
Hi, Lissy. That probability of relatedness is extremely low, which is inconclusive at best. Your baby was not too young for testing, however, your participating in the test could have helped to strengthen results one way or the other and we always recommend that the mother provide her DNA for grandparentage testing whenever possible. You are welcome to contact our parent company, DDC, to determine if another test is warranted in your case. That number is 800-681-7162.
Is it acceptable to spit on a spoon and then get the swabs soaked on it? Thank you.
Hi, Virginia. When you collect DNA this way there’s no guarantee that our robots will be able to extract the DNA properly, and this could delay test results. We always suggest you follow kit directions carefully. Thanks!
I’m from Trinidad and I had a test ordered and everything now the alleged father is in fact the father of my child. Now it came back 0%. It was not done for legal use now I want to have one done for legal use because I did not witness the delivery I just did the swabs and sent it with the father. Can i also have the number to call please so I can query this result?
Hi, Cindy. You are welcome to contact the international number for our parent company, DDC: 1-513-881-7800.
I’d like to know if your kit can be used to determine if 2 individuals are siblings from the same father? It’s already known they do not have the same mother in common.
Hi, Sally. Our kit is designed to test one child + one possible father + the mother (her participation is optional, but recommended). For the type of relationship testing you’re looking for, please contact Identigene’s parent company, DDC, directly at 800-681-7162 and an expert will answer your questions and help you determine which test is best for you and who should participate in it.
does the swab need to be done prior to eating or drinking anything? for example, as soon as the person wakes up? I was told its best to be done prior to eating or drinking. Please advise.
Hi, Evelyn. Yes, as noted on the kit instructions, participants should wait at least one hour after eating or drinking before using the cheek swabs. It doesn’t matter what time of day. This ensures that there will be enough DNA on the swabs (uncontaminated by other organic matter) for testing.
I recently did a test but the alleged father did not swab his cheek and instead rubbed the swab around in his mouth, would this effect the out come or should everything be ok?
Hi, Kimberly. If a report is issued, then that means the lab was able to extract enough DNA from his swabs to conduct testing and obtain conclusive results. If there isn’t enough DNA, then testing is suspended and the lab will ask for new samples.
Hi, i recently had my daughter and his father engaged into a dna through buccal swabs to determine paternity relatedness but i am confused why did the institution also conducted dna sampling with me and got buccal samples from me .why is this so when if we are just trying to prove paternity. I am just concern if this is an appropriate act or if can be somehow used for sabotaging results
Hi, Gracie. Most labs also request the mother’s DNA, in case her data is needed to confirm results. It’s nothing to worry about!
I need to know if my son is my son and if my child is out there
Hi, I have 2 possible fathers for myself and they both live in other states. I’m in Pennsylvania and the person that I would like to have tested for paternity lives in Florida. Could the test still be done? And how would that affect the test?
Hi, Jennifer. All you have to do is call us at 800-681-7162, and we will make all the arrangements for the test and send testing materials directly to all participants. It’s pretty simple to do.
Hi my son dad recently went behind my back and did a DNA test on him without letting me know. Now he is saying that the results say 0%. How is this possible when he is the only person I slept with.
Hi, Jes. Since you weren’t there to witness the at-home DNA collection process, you have no way of knowing whether he submitted his own DNA or his buddy’s or even if he submitted your son’s. If you really want to put this question to rest, you should request a legal DNA test, where IDs are checked to verify identity, DNA collection is witnessed by an impartial party, and results are court-admissible. We do offer this type of testing, if you’re interested: 800-344-9583.
Can you use a canister of collected reflux mixed with spit and tap water, to get samples? I believe and unsure how long we’ve had it, covered in a bag in the closet, possible almost 4-6 months? Also we have hairbrush with hair, and mucus in one of he suctions, floor and toys that were not cleaned but its been a month and possible contamination…who can collect from that? The person is dead, and i would like to get genetic samples for genealogy, and other samples for disability. The person did not die naturally, and would become a healthy person. I would like to compare genetic dna across from each other to see if the damage proteins of 2 genes had made issues for the 1 person. or if it was 1 of the 3 that caused the child to be born with the born illness that was resolving and resolved with physical training initiatives. The genetic test is for family genealogy and medical testing to prove rare amazing abilities.
Hi, Shawn. Please call us directly at 800-344-9583 to see if any options with these types of samples are available. Keep in mind that with any sample other than on a cheek swab, there is a $150 non-refundable viability-test fee.
Is there a test that I can use to do DNA on hair?
HomeDNA Identigene says
Hi, Jesus. Although it can be used for forensic testing (like you see on TV cop shows), hair is not normally a viable sample for paternity or any other type of family-relationship testing. In order to extract enough DNA, there needs to be a bunch of hair and it needs to contain the roots. Cheek swabs are the gold standard for collecting DNA.
Paddy eric says
Hi am eric pls I was booked for buccal swab for DNA test my father has passed on leaving my mum and she is in the state now trying to invite me there. I was booked for buccal swab but I ate(took breakfast) an hour before the swab was taken. Will it affect my results. Pls
HomeDNA Identigene says
Hi, Paddy eric. If there are any problems with contaminated swabs for any reason, the lab should reach out to you to get new ones and will not issue results from the contaminated ones.
I have 2 possible fathers for my daughter, I went to Family Court But wasn’t order to have a DNA test because one of the alleged fathers signed the acknowledgment for paternity in the hospital & was told legally he’s her father. I need to know for sure if the other man is her biological father, how do I get a test sent to both & what is the actual cost to have myself, Daughter & the 2 possible father tested when 1 lives out of state? Please help thank you
HomeDNA Identigene says
Hi, Dottie. Of course we can help with that. The easiest thing to do is to call our parent company, DDC, and we can arrange for sending DNA-collection materials to the different locations. That number is 800-681-7162.
There’s a possibility the man helping raise my child may not be ther father. He is unaware of this, I’m afraid to tell him out of fear for myself and the other possible “father”. Can I dip the swabs in his spit and send it in and get an accurate result? I can swab my child. But don’t think I can get away with swabbing him without him knowing what’s going on. I’ve asked the other man who could possibly be the father and he refuses, I can’t tell the one I’m with until I know for certain. If I do I’m afraid he will do something bad. Is dipping his swabs a possibility or no?
HomeDNA Identigene says
Hi, Daisy. Our robots extract cheek cells from swabbing and not saliva, so the chances of it being successful are not very great, but you can try.
Is saliva of eating utensils or fork a viable for DNA test results?
HomeDNA Identigene says
Hi, Kirk. It may be possible to extract enough DNA from utensils to perform a paternity test, but there are no guarantees. When customers submit non-swab samples, there is a $150 non-refundable viability fee for determining whether or not there’s enough DNA in the sample, so keep that in mind. If you want to pursue this further, you’re welcome to contact our parent company DNA Diagnostics Center directly at 800-681-7162 (M-F, 8 am to 8 pm Eastern).
Does the time between getting a swab test and sending it in matter? I’m testing two people , a father in California who is afraid He is not the father and is reticent , and a daughter in Mexico that I have to arrange to visit. I will be taking swabs as the schedule allows, but what if it’s two months before I can send them in?
HomeDNA Identigene says
Hi, Pat. Swabs with DNA can be viable for up to six (6) months, as long as they’re kept in a cool, dry place.