By Holly Giles | Deputy Editor
Scientists at Cardiff University have found “promising signs” that using mouthwash may help destroy COVID-19 in saliva. They found that mouthwashes containing at least 0.07% cetypyridinium chloride (CPC) were able to eradicate the virus in a laboratory setting.
COVID-19 is an enveloped virus with an outer fatty membrane which can be targeted by CPC and destroyed. No vaccines currently work through this method of damaging the membrane so may be an alternative way to inactivate the virus in the mouth. The work showed that the mouthwash was able to kill the virus within 30 seconds of exposure, suggesting that mouthwash use, if the results are confirmed, may be a protective weapon in our anti-COVID-19 arsenal.
When Dr Nick Claydon, a specialist periodontologist, reflected on the findings, he said:
“If these positive results are reflected in Cardiff University’s clinical trial, CPC-based mouthwashes… could become an important addition to people’s routine, together with hand washing, physical distancing and wearing masks, both now and in the future”
The Lead Author of the study, Dr Rickard Stanton, said: “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. This study is not yet peer reviewed and published which means it has not yet been scrutinised by other scientists as is the usual process with academic research. It has now been submitted for publication in a journal. People should continue to follow the preventive measures issued by the UK government, including washing hands frequently and maintaining social distance.”
Whilst the work is yet to be confirmed, through the process of peer review, there is hope that the results may have wider implications for future health. The team is now running a clinical trial at the University Hospital of Wales, for which results are expected in early 2021; this will look at whether the use of mouthwash is able to reduce levels of COVID-19 present in salvia in hospital patients.
When reflecting on the upcoming clinical trials, Stanton said:
“Whilst these mouthwashes very effectively eradicate the virus in the laboratory, we need to see if they work in patients and this is the point of our ongoing clinical study. The ongoing clinical study will, however, show us how long any effects last, following a single administration of the mouthwash in patients with COVID-19. We need to understand if the effect of over-the-counter mouthwashes on the COVID-19 virus achieved in the laboratory can be reproduced in patients.”
With these key answers expected in a few months, we can hope to see the relationship between mouthwash and COVID-protection confirmed in the near future. Whilst using mouthwash has always been part of good oral hygiene, this new finding may make it more important than ever before.