Across the world, teams of scientists are steadfastly searching for effective treatments and vaccines to help us succeed in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, until the search turns up an undisputed winner, finding ways to control and prevent the spread of the virus has to be top of mind for us all. And while the use of hand sanitizer, masks and social distancing are tools we’re all familiar with, a new study is offering one more possible line of defense…
How coronavirus spreads and how it can be killed
One of the ways coronavirus spreads is through droplets. So basically, if someone is infected and they breathe out, cough, sneeze, talk or sing, virus-laden droplets are forced out into the air around them.
A healthy person can then breathe it in as they walk through droplets hanging in the air or come into contact with them on a surface and transfer them to their nose, mouth or eyes.
That’s why the currently recommended protective measures focus so heavily on either avoiding coming into contact with the virus at all (through social distancing), blocking the virus from entering your nose or mask (by wearing a mask) or killing the virus before it can enter your body (by using hand sanitizer and keeping your hands away from your face).
And it’s that third one — the kill method — that gave German researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum an interesting idea…
They theorized that since antiseptics, like the alcohol found in hand sanitizers, are capable of destroying the protective envelope that surrounds coronavirus, that cleaning out your mouth with antiseptics might do the same thing to reduce the spread of the virus.
That’s when they came up with their mouthwash study…
The mouthwash test
Their study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, assessed how effective eight different types of commercially available mouthwashes were in killing off coronavirus.
To complete their evaluation, the researchers used African green monkey cells that they had already infected with three different strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus along with a substance that mimicked the secretions normally found in the human respiratory tract.
They then tested each mouthwash against three coronavirus individual strains by shaking the mouthwash in the petri dish for 30 seconds in order to imitate gargling.
And guess what…
Every single mouthwash was effective at reducing the viral load (the amount of virus) in the cells.
However, while all of the mouthwashes were successful at reducing viral load, there were three that really stood out for performing significantly better than the others.
The active ingredients that made these mouthwashes the winners were:
- Dequalinium chloride and benzalkonium chloride — found in Dequonal mouthwash
- Polyvidone-iodine — found in Iso-Betadine mouthwash
- Ethanol and essential oils — found in Listerine Cool Mint
When asked about the results, study author Toni Meister, had this to say, “Gargling with a mouthwash cannot inhibit the production of viruses in the cells, but could reduce the viral load in the short term where the greatest potential for infection comes from, namely in the oral cavity and throat — and this could be useful in certain situations, such as at the dentist or during the medical care of COVID-19 patients.”
In other words, using mouthwash could help combat transmission from an infected person to others by lowering the amount of coronavirus that could be expelled from their mouth or nose. It does not however serve as a treatment for coronavirus — but it does give us one more tool to protect ourselves and others in the age of COVID.
Virucidal Efficacy of Different Oral Rinses Against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 — The Journal of Infectious Diseases
Which mouthwashes inactivated SARS-CoV-2 the best? — DrBicuspid.com