A new report suggests mouthwash has the potential to fight COVID-19 and reduce transmission, prompting calls for further research.
The study, led by Cardiff University, says mouthwash could potentially help to destroy the outer layer of the virus – or ‘envelope’ – which could then stop it infecting cells.
COVID-19 is part of a group of ‘enveloped viruses’ that are characterised by an outer lipid membrane.
Lead author, Professor Valerie O’Donnell, is co-director of Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute.
She says limited studies show some mouthwashes target similar enveloped viruses – but is calling on further research as a ‘matter of urgency’ to see whether mouthwash can be used against COVID-19, reports Sky News.
Dr Saul Konviser, from the Dental Wellness Trust, said: ‘Whilst we welcome the news, more research is needed into whether normal mouthwash could be effective in reducing COVID-19 transmission in the early stages of infection.
‘If people choose to use a mouthwash, ideally opt for one that contains hydrogen peroxide. Coronavirus is spread through water or mucus droplets from the nose and mouth and saliva containing the virus.
‘It’s therefore essential that people keep their toothbrushes routinely disinfected or sterilised after each use – ideally with hot water, hot water and salt or hot water with one added teaspoon of vinegar.’
Reaffirm tooth brushing
Dr Konviser is not the only dentist urging the public to take oral health messages onboard.
Professor Martin Addy is encouraging dental professionals to spread hygiene messages so that patients can stay protected.
He said: ‘Based on the effectiveness of detergent-based hand washing products against coronavirus and because toothpaste contains the same detergents, dental professionals have got behind the suggestion to reaffirm tooth brushing for two minutes at least twice a day.
‘These brushings should be before leaving home – particularly if using public transport.
‘For the medical professions, including dentistry, tooth brushing should be performed before donning protective equipment.
‘Increasing the exposure to toothpaste by the general public without the need to brush could be the application of toothpaste on a finger rubbed around the mouth.’
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