All about toothbrush DNA testing

Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

By Casey Randall, Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Last reviewed: 02/10/2023

Toothbrush DNA testing is the latest addition to AlphaBiolabs DNA relationship testing services.  Our in-house geneticists have undertaken viability studies to prove that used toothbrushes can be a good source of DNA.

  • Novel way to collect DNA
  • £49 for a viability study
  • Non-invasive and discreet
  • Up to 45 DNA markers analysed if a profile can be retrieved

Discreet sampling

The usual method of DNA collection for AlphaBiolabs analyses is to rub a swab on the inside of the donor’s cheek to collect cheek (buccal) cells. The DNA is then extracted from the cells when the swabs are returned to the laboratory for testing.

A major advantage of the toothbrush DNA test is that samples can be collected in an unobtrusive manner. For example, children don’t need to be made aware that a test is being undertaken. This would be particularly beneficial in the case of a paternity dispute, for example, where using a swab on older children could lead to awkward questions. By simply sending in their regular toothbrush instead allows for more discreet sampling.

Easy DNA collection

DNA cannot be collected from cheek cells using a swab once an individual has passed away. Another advantage of toothbrush DNA testing is that it can be used when an individual is deceased. The DNA can simply be collected from their used toothbrush. DNA may be needed to prove a biological relationship in the case of probate or will disputes. Alternatively, a DNA profile could be produced as a lasting memento of a loved one.

Consent is needed

Consent must be provided for all toothbrush samples that are sent in to be analysed. Next of kin or another qualifying relative can sign consent for an individual who has died. A parent or guardian must provide consent for a child under 16 years of age.  

DNA testing

Once the toothbrushes have been returned to the laboratory for DNA testing the first step is to extract the DNA from the sample. AlphaBiolabs’ in-house laboratory uses one of the newest DNA extraction techniques available to ensure a high level of precision. If we can get a DNA profile, a DNA relationship test can be performed in the same way as mouth swab DNA testing (fee applies). The DNA profile will be analysed for up to 45 DNA Short Tandem Repeats (STR) markers, making it one of the most accurate DNA tests on the market.

STR markers are specific locations on a chromosome made up of sequences of repeated DNA. These STR markers are highly variable in length between individuals. Relationship tests are completed by comparing the observed DNA profiles from a group of people and considering the probability of any potential relationships. Paternity tests are completed by comparing the STR markers seen in the child with those seen in the alleged parents.

If a DNA profile cannot be retrieved from the toothbrush, we will contact you and arrange to return the cost of the DNA relationship testing kit. A refund will not be possible for the laboratory work already undertaken for the viability study.

To find out more about toothbrush DNA testing, please call AlphaBiolabs on 0333 600 1300 or email us at info@alphabiolabs.com

Order a toothbrush DNA test

AlphaBiolabs is an award-winning DNA testing lab. Toothbrush testing starts from just £49 for a viability study, plus the cost of a relationship test.

Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

Casey Randall

Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Casey joined the AlphaBiolabs team in 2012 and heads up both the DNA and Covid-19 testing teams.

An expert in DNA analysis and a member of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG), Casey holds an MSc with Distinction in DNA Profiling and a First-Class BSc with Honours in Forensic Science.

Casey is responsible for maintaining the highest quality testing standards, as well as looking for ways to further enhance the service that AlphaBiolabs provides and exploring new and innovative techniques in DNA analysis.

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