Study says gargling with mouthwash can reduce covid-19 transmission

A new study reveals that gargling with commercially available mouthwashes could reduce the quantities of viral particles in the mouth and throat, thus reducing the transmission of covid-19
Here’s another reason to use a mouthwash. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published: 12 Aug 2020, 12:55 pm IST
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A new study revealed that gargling with commercially-available mouthwashes could reduce the quantities of viral particles in the mouth and throat, in turn reducing the risk of short-term transmission of covid-19.

Published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the study extensively mentions that mouthwashes are not suitable for treating covid-19 infections and that they do not protect us from catching the virus either, SARS-CoV-2. They can, however, reduce the risk of transmission. 

The researchers including those from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, believe that large quantities of the virus particles can be detected in the oral cavity and throat of some of the covid-19 patients.

covid-19 transmission
Main route of transmission of virus is through sneezing, coughing and/or talking. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In the study, they mention that the main route of transmission of the virus likely involves direct contact with respiratory droplets of infected individuals, produced during sneezing, coughing, or talking, and the subsequent contact to nasal, oral or ocular mucosal membranes of healthy individuals.

They said that the findings “support the idea that oral rinsing might reduce the viral load of saliva and could thus lower the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”

The aim of this study is to help reduce the risk of such forms of transmission and help develop protocols for dental treatments.

“Our findings clearly advocate the evaluation of selected formulations in a clinical context to systematically evaluate the decontamination and tissue health of the oral cavity in patients and healthcare workers to potentially prevent virus transmission,” said the scientists.

Eight types of mouthwash with different ingredients that were available at pharmacies across Germany were tested under the due course of this study. The scientists mixed each mouthwash with virus particles and a substance in order to recreate the salivary effect.

In order to determine the quantities of the virus particles, they simulated the effect of gargling by shaking it and tested it in Vero E6 cells, which are “particularly receptive” to SARS-CoV-2.

covid-19 transmission
Gargling with mouthwash reduces the viral load in short term. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The researchers even studied the efficacy of the mouthwashes, wherein they treated the virus suspensions with cell culture medium instead of the mouthwash before adding them to the lab-grown cells.

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All of the tested preparations reduced the virus count initially. However, they that the effect and its duration are yet to be confirmed in clinical practice.

“Gargling with 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,” explained study co-author Toni Meister from Ruhr University Bochum.

They are now further examining the scope of a clinical study on the efficacy of mouthwashes on SARS-CoV-2 during which the scientists want to test whether the effect can also be detected in patients and how long it lasts. 

(With inputs from PTI)


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