Study: Human Coronaviruses ‘Inactivated’ by Mouthwash, What It Really Means

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DES MOINES, Iowa — A new study conducted by researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine has found that a common dental item can inactivate human coronaviruses — mouth wash and oral rinses. Products like Listerine or Crest Pro Health mouthwashes were found to inactivate 99.9 percent of the virus after only 30 seconds of contact time.

“In general to hear that substances that have antiseptic properties can kill COVID is not surprising,” Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Rossana Rosa said. “It is one of the reasons why we do tell people to wash their hands and frequently use hand sanitizer.”

Dr. Rosa said those looking for a quick fix may be disappointed. Using these rinses to actually prevent contracting the virus may not be possible.

“If you are infected with COVID and you are in that phase where the virus is replicating within certain parts of your body, that is not something that happens once. That is actually something that happens over a few number of days,” Dr. Rosa said. “So if you indeed gargle mouthwash and you kill some of the virus that’s in there, that doesn’t mean that that was all that COVID that you had in your body.”

Dr. Rosa said it’s always good to have these kinds of studies to explore possible solutions to this pandemic, but for now, it’s best to keep using mouthwashes to protect from things like gingivitis and use things like masks and social distancing against COVID-19.

“I think it’s important as new information comes in that one assesses it and see how reasonable it is. We certainly have to be humble, we all remember that at some point we really thought that face cloth masks would not really work,” Dr. Rosa said. “Now, more evidence has come out showing that it actually works. So I do think that if something new comes up, it’s important that you see where is it published, is it a reputable journal, you know, talk to your provider about the strength of that evidence.”

Items they tested in this study were one-percent solution of baby shampoo, a neti pot, peroxide sore-mouth cleansers, and mouthwashes.

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