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Researchers testing the effectiveness of mouthwash to kill COVID-19 in lab setting

Posted at 4:04 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 16:09:29-05

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — For months, health professionals have urged the public to help stop the spread of COVID-19, while promoting face coverings, social distancing, and hand washing.

“We’ve known for a long time that this virus is an enveloped virus and has an outer lipid layer, and we know that it’s sensitive to agents that can disrupt this fatty outer shell. That’s why we ask patients and people to wash their hands with soap," said Dr. Kami Hoss, founder and CEO of The Super Dentists in San Diego.

Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Hoss has also asked patients to swish some mouthwash before they sit down for care.

“That’s just one more layer of protection we’ve added," said Dr. Hoss.

Now, researchers at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom are learning some mouthwashes can kill COVID-19 within 30 seconds, at least in a lab setting. The study found mouthwashes containing .07 percent of cetylpyridinium chloride showed promising signs of combating the virus, as well as those with ethyl lauroyl arginate.

But while these mouthwashes killed the virus in the lab, the virus is continuously replicating in humans. More research is needed to see how effective it would be in the real world and how long it could kill the virus in the mouth.

Dr. Richard Stanton, the lead author on the study, said in a statement:

“This study adds to the emerging literature that several commonly available mouthwashes 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."

Dr. Stanton goes on to say that the study is not yet been peer-reviewed and published, meaning it has not yet been scrutinized by other scientists. However, it has been submitted for publication in a journal.

“You can take it with a grain of salt knowing it was done in a laboratory setting, but I think there’s some usage of it in a real setting today," said Dr. Hoss.

Like if you plan to see family around the holiday, says Dr. Hoss. In theory, the mouthwash could serve as an extra layer of protection for people who may be asymptomatic and plan to be around loved ones.

“It’s really important to know the mouthwash doesn’t replace any of the other measures that we know about, like the mask, hand washing, and social distancing," said. Dr. Hoss.

And he warns against using these harsh mouthwashes too often because they can disrupt the mouth’s natural ecosystem, which helps fight off disease.

“I would limit using this mouthwash for those instances where you’re going to be close to somebody that you may think has an underlying medical condition," said Dr. Hoss.

Next, researchers will look at how effective mouthwash is at reducing the virus in the saliva of real COVID-19 patients.

While it’s not a cure and can’t kill the virus in other parts of the body, Dr. Hoss says there are few downsides to using mouthwash.

At the very least, it’ll leave you with minty fresh breath.