Researchers show mouthwash can fight COVID-19, but…


How nice it would be if vigorous rinsing with mouthwash can fight COVID-19. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple – but mouthwashes offer very specific protection, as researchers have now discovered.

The question of whether coronaviruses can be rinsed away with mouthwash has haunted the network almost since the beginning of the corona crisis. So far, there was agreement on the answer: Such “insider tips” are usually fake news. So far, there is no evidence that gargling with mouthwash can fight COVID-19, explains the World Health Organization (WHO) time and again. And doctors also agreed.

But new study results show that the viral load in the throat can actually be reduced with certain mouthwashes. This does not change anything in the course of one’s own illness.

But it can, like the mouth and nose covering, protect others. But that only helps in certain cases. So you shouldn’t buy the classic dental care products in advance and certainly not gargle with them all the time.

Mouthwash can fight COVID-19 — But with limitations

Several reasons are now known why the coronavirus cannot simply be removed with a mouthwash gargle. Some doctors say, “Infection means that the virus has got into the throat. That means you would have to gargle and rinse all the time and always have mouthwash with you. ”

But that’s not all, because such a procedure would have side effects: “Using mouthwash so often irritates and attacks the mucous membranes. Some substances in mouthwash can also trigger allergies or cause swelling. You should only use mouthwash normally, as you have done up to now, for example in the morning and evening. Using it more does not make sense and irritates the mucous membrane. ”


And disease pathogens have it particularly easy on irritated mucous membranes. Because immune cells are already busy taking care of the irritation. When viruses add up, the immune system is even busier.

Furthermore, it is now known that the main entry point for the coronavirus is the nose. And from there it works its way through the body – if it is not stopped. But no one wants (and should !!) rinse mouthwash through their noses.

For third-party protection: mouthwash actually helps here

And yet there are a few situations in everyday life in which mouthwash can help against Sars-CoV-2 – but not as self-protection or even healing. A study by the Ruhr University Bochum, in which virologists from Jena, Ulm, Duisburg-Essen, Nuremberg, and Bremen –  also in the team, shows that the risk of transmission could be significantly reduced with the help of mouthwashes.

Virologist explains: “In the study, we tested the antiviral activity of various commercially available mouthwash can fight COVID-19 to reduce the viral load. Three of them even manage to lower the viral load to the detection limit. That means: These have shown a strong antiviral effect. ”

The researchers around Meister assume that high viral loads in the oral cavity can at least be reduced with mouth rinsing and thus lower the risk of infection. This can be helpful when going to the dentist, for example.

Dentists and their assistants are more exposed to possible viruses from the throat of their patients than many other people. Because of course no mask can wear on the dentist’s chair during the examination. If you have recently undergone a dental exam, you will likely have determined that mouthwash is provided.

Where the mouthwash still fails?

For the rest of everyday life, however, the euphoria about mouthwash can fight COVID-19 is limited, because as described above, we cannot and should not continuously rinse our mouth with irritating substances. They further restrict: “In principle, good oral hygiene can never hurt. However, we must emphasize that we carried out our experiments in cell cultures and not directly the influence of mouthwashes on the viral load in the patient’s mouth and throat do not assess to what extent our results can be transferred to an infected person and, if there is an effect, how long it would last. ”

So it does harm – in general! – not brushing your teeth thoroughly on a regular basis and, for example, using some mouthwash before visiting a person who could belong to a risk group. But you shouldn’t build on it or even overdo it.

Researchers find mouthwash compositions helpful

However, there may still be hope: A few months ago, researchers found evidence that a certain composition of mouthwash could destroy the structure of the virus. The main reason for the research – the results of previous studies by Cardiff University Wales on other viruses with a similar architecture. These results have now been taken up in a new study.

According to this, mouthwashes with a low proportion of ethanol, povidone-iodine, chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide, and cetylpyridinium chloride can destroy “envelope viruses” such as coronaviruses. Similar to washing hands with soap or disinfecting and cleaning surfaces. These types of mouthwash are in use to “degrease” the virus’s envelope – a lipid membrane – thus destroy it.

If you rinse your mouth early, you could possibly contain an infection of cells. However, further investigations are definitely necessary first. So far it is only about one approach! So far it represents by the viral load that can deduct for a short time. Mouthwash does not inhibit the production of viruses in the cells.

Mouthwash can fight COVID-19, But:

Therefore, a preoperative, antimicrobial mouth rinse reduces the number of oral microbes. However, chlorhexidine may not be enough to eliminate Sars-CoV-2. Therefore, a mouthwash with an oxidizing agent (such as one percent hydrogen peroxide or 0.2 percent povidone) is necessary.

As already described above, you should therefore not rinse more extensively with mouthwash than you would normally – at most twice a day. The risk of infection is much higher due to irritated mucous membranes and far too little is known about the actual benefits of mouthwashes can fight COVID-19. Until then, the following still applies: It is best to protect yourself directly from the coronavirus.


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