Dentists have often recommended mouthwashes to us in an effort to practice good oral hygiene however we could now have an even better incentive to start using one. Latest laboratory tests find that mouthwash could be effective in killing the virus( SARS CoV 2) that leads to COVID 19!
Initial reports by Cardiff University point to these findings
A study conducted by the Cardiff University showed the effectiveness of mouthwashes in killing the virus, specifically mouthwashes that contained at least 0.07 to 1 per cent cetypyridinium chloride (CPC) or 23% ethanol with ethyl lauroyl arginate. The study suggests that these mouthwashes containing these ingredients would be effective in killing the virus but since it does not enter our respiratory tract or lungs (areas which are affected by COVID) it cannot be used to treat someone already infected with the virus.
The study’s lead researcher, Richard Stanton, says “This study adds to the emerging literature that several commonly-available types of mouthwash designed to fight gum disease can also inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (and other related coronaviruses) when tested in the laboratory under conditions that are designed to mimic the oral/nasal cavity in a test tube”.
While the study showed signs of some over-the-counter mouthwashes being able to kill the virus within 30 seconds of being exposed to it in a laboratory setting, extensive tests are yet to be carried out.
Clinical trials to be conducted to judge the effectiveness of mouthwashes
Researchers are yet to begin a clinical trial which would test the ability of the mouthwashes to eradicate the virus in a patient’s saliva as it did in a laboratory setup. The trials will be carried out on covid 19 patients in the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and the results are expected to be published in 2021.
"Whilst these mouthwashes very effectively eradicate the virus in the laboratory, we need to see if they work in patients and this is the point of our ongoing clinical study," said professor David Thomas, the lead researcher in the 12-week trial.
Previous studies have also tried achieving the same results
The idea that mouthwash could be used to kill the virus is not new. In fact, many researchers in the past have tried achieving a correlation. Earlier in 2020, a team of researchers from universities of Nottingham, Colorado, Ottawa, Barcelona and Cambridge’s Babraham Institute tried establishing the importance of mouthwashes in killing the virus.
They theorised that since the coronavirus is enveloped in a fatty membrane on the outside, the mouthwash could be effective in penetrating this fatty layer thus rendering it ineffective. The use of the mouthwash would also lead to the elimination of the virus in the throat itself thus preventing any further complications from taking place.
This theory originated when previous researchers found that some of the ingredients that are present in a mouthwash, like small amounts of ethanol and cetylpyridinium, could be effective in killing viruses like gingivitis by destroying their outer membrane. With the pandemic increasing at a rapid pace, this led to researchers wondering if this same theory could be applied to the coronavirus too.
However, there is no guaranteed proof that mouthwash could protect you from the coronavirus
While these studies show promising results and clinical trials are yet to begin, government officials have put out statements saying that there is no proof that mouthwash is an effective barrier against contracting or being cured of the coronavirus.
Earlier in February, the World Health Organisation issued statements saying "no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus. Some brands of mouthwash can eliminate certain microbes for a few minutes in the saliva in your mouth. However, this does not mean they protect you from 2019-nCoV infection.”
Many researchers also state that while certain ingredients can kill viruses on contact, when it comes to COVID-19, the virus attacks various other parts of the body in the upper respiratory tract -- in the nose, the sinuses, the throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. Since a mouthwash cannot reach those places, it would be ineffective in fighting the virus.
"It is still in your nose, in the fluid on your vocal cords, and in your lung airways. All of these and especially the vocal cords and lung airways are major sources of the virus in the air” Dr. Donald Milton, who studies the transmission of viruses at the University of Maryland, tells CNN.
Leading mouthwash brands have issued warnings to their consumers
While a study by a team of German researchers in the Journal of Infectious Diseases claimed mouthwashes like Listerine can be effective in “significantly reducing viral infectivity to undetectable levels” in regards to the coronavirus, Listerine has issued public statements warning it’s users against using it as an effective barrier against the virus.
In the statements on their website, they said "Listerine mouthwash has not been tested against any strains of coronavirus. Only some Listerine mouthwash formulations contain alcohol, and if present is only around 20% alcohol. Listerine mouthwash is not intended to be used, nor would it be beneficial as a hand sanitizer or surface disinfectant."
While trials are being conducted, there is no definite proof on using a mouthwash as an effective treatment to the covid 19 virus and the current findings are extremely preliminary. It is best we follow the guidelines like social distancing, wearing a mask and frequent washing of hands that are tried and testing in protecting us. Until the use of a mouthwash is proven to be effective against the coronavirus, it is best we just use it as part of our dental routine to keep our breath fresh.