TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Last updated on – Aug 11, 2020, 16:59 IST
01/5Can using a mouthwash reduce risk of COVID transmission?
It has been eight months since we first heard about the presence of the novel coronavirus infection. Now, we have over 20 million active cases worldwide and the pandemic is slowing no signs of making an exit. In the lack of this, the only thing we can do is to curb the spread of infections. From face masks, face shields, immunity-boosting shots, disinfection kits, sprays, the emphasis on leading a virus-free healthy life is more than ever. Now, there is a new study which suggests that making use of common dental hygiene utility could also make the job easier. Yes, using mouthwashes could be the key to lowering the spread of the deadly coronavirus infection, according to one body of scientists.
02/5Mouthwashes can prevent viruses from depositing in the oral cavities
A study published recently in the Journal of Infectious Diseases makes a case for commonly used mouthwashes in fighting COVID-19. According to the latest findings, gargling with mouthwash solutions may help ‘inactive’ the viral load of the SARS-COV-2 virus persisting in the mouth and throat and thereby, help lessen the spread of the infection.
The study, however, made it clear that using mouthwashes is no guaranteed treatment for the viral outbreak or protecting one from the infection; what it can possibly do is lower the chances of spread and transmission.
Till date, there is no one approved treatment or preventive cure for COVID-19 and it will possibly take months before we have a vaccine ready.
03/5What do the findings suggest?
Researchers have based their evidence of using oral disinfecting solutions after studies based out of Ruhr University Bochum in Germany found out that high quantities of coronavirus exist within the upper respiratory tract, including the mouth and the throat.
It is also possible that the oral and throat cavities act as the ideal environments for the virus to settle in healthy individuals post infection. Since the spread of respiratory droplets, coughing, sneezing or talking are the likely causes of spread, a gargling solution like mouthwash could reduce the risk of transmission and subsequently lower the viral load or even stop it from multiplying.
“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,” the scientists wrote in the study.
Researchers also believe that if found to be effective, mouthwashes could act as a standard protocol in dental procedures and further reduce the risk of transmission. The same is being studied right now.
04/5How can mouthwashes be effective?
For the study, scientists tested out eight different store-bought bottles of mouthwash made out of different ingredients. Most of the brands under study were commonly used by the German population.
A quantity of mouthwash under testing was mixed with the virus and a biomolecular particle to recreate the effect of saliva. The solution was mixed together for 30 seconds to simulate gargling and see whether the solution was able to inactivate the viral load. An agency report added that the scientists tested the solution in Vero E6 cells, which, according to the researchers, are “particularly receptive” to SARS-CoV-2, to determine the quantities of the virus particles.
After the time gap, it was observed that while all of the mouthwashes were able to reduce the viral load, 3 out of 8 samples were able to root out the viral cells by a greater extent.
Basis of the study, scientists are also hopeful of conducting another research to see if mouthwashes could elicit the same response in COVID+ patients and determine how long virus particles last.
05/5Scientists issue a word of caution against the use
The experimental study has only been done in a clinical environment and much more research is needed to conclude the working and efficacy of the same. Toni Meister, the co-author from the study, issued the word of warning about the experiment.
“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.
It should be noted that gargling with saline solutions, rinsing the mouth with salty or warm water were also some touted claims to root out COVID-19 in the early month. There is no real proof that they work, and hence, shouldn’t be relied on. Medical advice and non-pharmaceutical measures such as social distancing and sanitisation are the only measures which actually work, at this point.