The saliva collection kits are easy to use, and detailed instructions are included in each kit. If your order contains more than one kit, please make sure that each individual being sequenced uses the collection tube from the kit they have registered or intend to register.

You can provide your sample under varying health circumstances, including while you are pregnant, while you have a cold or the flu, and while you are taking common medications, including those for acid reflux or heartburn. However, if you are undergoing medical treatment that reduces your white blood cell count, such as chemotherapy, it is best to wait at least two weeks after your last treatment or until your white blood cell count has returned to normal.

Your saliva sample is stable at a wide range of temperatures (-4ºF to 122ºF) once it is mixed with the DNA stabilization buffer liquid. We recommend that you ship your collected sample to the laboratory at your earliest convenience.

The collection and shipping process is composed of a few basic steps - instructions are included in your kit materials. There are a few things to keep in mind while providing your sample:

  1. Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, brush your teeth, or use mouthwash for at least 30 minutes prior to providing your sample.
  2. Collect the recommended volume of saliva. The recommended volume of saliva to provide is about 2 mL, or about ½ teaspoon. Your saliva sample should be just above the fill line.
  3. Provide your sample and add the stabilization buffer within 30 minutes. The full saliva sample should be collected within 30 minutes and the funnel contents should be released into the tube immediately. Waiting longer than 30 minutes may decrease the yield and quality of your DNA.
  4. Cap securely before shipping. Remember to remove and discard the funnel lid and place the tube cap on securely before mailing your sample to our laboratory.
  5. The transportation supplies for your saliva sample are included in your kit. Simply place the collection tube containing your sample in the plastic specimen bag, and then place the bag directly into the box. The plastic clamshell should be discarded. Remove the adhesive strip on the flap and seal the box.
  6. Return your sample by dropping the package off at any US Postal Service Mail Box if shipping from within the United States. The box is already pre-addressed and pre-paid.

To protect your privacy, receiving personnel at the laboratory will remove and discard any identifying information (e.g. name, address) included with saliva samples before testing personnel receive the samples for sequencing. Receiving staff do not perform testing, and testing personnel only handle samples labeled with the unique barcode.

Some individuals occasionally have difficulties providing the quantity of saliva required for our analysis. Make sure to review the instructions included with your kit and our article about providing your saliva sample providing your saliva sample. It helps to think about lemons!

If providing adequate sample volume is a challenge for you or someone you are assisting, the following may help increase saliva production:

  • Gently rubbing the outside of your cheeks
  • Making chewing motions with your mouth
  • Smelling or imagining sour foods such as lemons
  • Thinking about your own favorite food

Biting or scraping your cheeks is not recommended; keep in mind that the majority of the cells analyzed in your saliva sample will not be epithelial cells from your cheeks but white blood cells that are found naturally in your saliva. 

Collecting saliva within 30 minutes

The full saliva sample should be collected within 30 minutes and the funnel contents should be released into the tube immediately. This buffer prevents DNA from degrading over time; waiting longer than 30 minutes or delaying the release of the buffer solution may decrease the yield and quality of your DNA.

Individuals experiencing xerostomia (dry mouth) naturally or as a side effect of medication may have difficulty producing enough saliva within the recommended 30 minutes. If you are unable to produce the required amount of saliva within 30 minutes, you can release the buffer into the tube first, then add your sample on top of the buffer until it reaches the top of the tube. In this instance, we recommend removing the funnel lid and rinsing it with water after the buffer has been added, then reattaching it to the tube to spit. Once the buffer has been released, you can provide your sample over a longer period of time if necessary. If the buffer liquid is spilled you will need to request a new kit by contacting Helix Support.

Time and temperature guidelines

The saliva collection kit includes a buffer solution that is added to your saliva immediately after you finish providing your sample. This solution stabilizes the DNA and prevents bacterial contamination.

Buffered samples are stable at a wide range of temperatures (-4ºF to 122ºF or -20ºC to 50ºC) for up to 6 months. Unused kits also remain stable even if exposed to temperatures in this range during transit or storage.

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