Dental professionals everywhere are now turning to “pre-procedural” rinses. These are thought to help prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading through the air as aerosols during dental procedures. This has the public interested in whether mouthwash can help protect them at home against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Can you use mouthwash for coronavirus? Not exactly.
As a dental hygienist, I would like to discuss the latest information you may have heard about. The claim is that by using mouthwash, you can treat or prevent COVID-19. New protocols have gone into place at the dental office to try to reduce spread but you need to know that what you do at home is not the same. You won’t be able to accomplish treatment or prevention of COVID-19 transmission. It’s not that easy. I will explain.
What Can Mouthwash Do?
Mouthwash can be useful as a part of your oral health routine. There are many benefits of mouthwash ranging from cavity prevention to help with gum disease. Some people think it helps with bad breath. There is strong evidence against using it for bad breath and I will explain more about that later.
Some people like to use mouthwash to help whiten their teeth. However, the whitening results you can achieve with a mouthwash are very minimal. There are more beneficial ways dental professionals recommend if you truly want to whiten your teeth. Learn more about the role hydrogen peroxide plays in teeth whitening.
The most beneficial use of mouthwash is to supplement with fluoride. Those of you who are prone to cavities can reduce your risk of decay with a daily routine of fluoride mouthwash. The most common over the counter rinse recommended by dental professionals for this purpose is ACT anti-cavity rinse. Always look for a product without alcohol. Using a product with alcohol can cause dry mouth symptoms which will make you even more likely to develop cavities.
Using a mouthwash for gum disease can help combat the bacteria that cause gum disease. However, you should not use just any mouthwash. It is important to use a mouthwash that preserves the delicate microbiome in your mouth. Our mouth contains a careful balance of both good and bad bacteria.
What About Your Microbiome and Bad Breath?
It is not in your best interest to use a mouthwash that kills 99.9% of all bacteria. Contrary to belief, it is actually beneficial to preserve certain bacteria in the mouth. This is called your microbiome. According to Wikipedia, the microbiome is further explained as, “certain microorganisms that perform tasks that are known to be useful to the human host but the role of most of them is not well understood.”
By using a mouthwash with the right ingredients, you can maintain this natural balance of bacteria. Tri-ology rinse has a patented whole-plant anti-inflammatory technology that combines natural antimicrobials and antioxidants. It helps treat and prevent gum disease by providing continuous repair to the oral tissues.
Many people believe that using a mouthwash will help with bad breath. This is simply not true. You are better off using oral probiotics for bad breath as they work differently than using antimicrobial rinses. They work by repopulating good bacteria and limiting the growth of bad bacteria. Please read a related article on how oral probiotics work and how supplementing with an oral probiotic will be more beneficial at treating bad breath.
But What About Mouthwash for Coronavirus?
There is evidence of certain mouthwashes being effective against coronaviruses. A study that was published in the Journal of Medical Virology showed how certain mouthwashes were seemably able to deactivate coronavirus. It is important to keep in mind that this study was conducted in a lab and not actually in a human study.
In the dental office, prior to dental procedures, your provider will have you rinse with a “pre-procedural” rinse. This rinse is a mouthwash used to kill bacteria, fungi, molds and viruses. This includes certain coronaviruses. However, it is important to know that more research is needed to prove that it is effective against the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
Another study published in the Journal of Prosthodontics compared the effectiveness of oral antiseptic rinses containing hydrogen peroxide versus those containing povidone-iodine. This study showed that povidone-iodine may be the rinse of choice for dental professionals as it was more effective in vitro.
The pre-procedural rinse in dental offices is theorized to cut down on pathogens in dental aerosols created by dental procedures like polishing, ultra-sonic scaling and cavity preparations. Most commonly used for this procedure is hydrogen peroxide because it is cost effective. Other common rinses used for this purpose are Tri-ology rinse and OraCare mouth rinse. Keep in mind that studies have shown them effective against some coronaviruses but more evidence is needed to show effectiveness against COVID-19.
There is not enough evidence that mouthwash can be used for a treatment of coronavirus as it does not reach the lungs or the respiratory tract. It has only been shown to be effective against certain coronaviruses in saliva. Also, in the studies conducted, the benefits have only been shown in a lab dish. These results have not been replicated in humans.
Furthermore, the pathogens easily repopulated in the oral cavity. This is why pre-procedural rinses need to be repeated often when used to reduce oral pathogens in the dental office. If you do choose a mouthwash as an addition to your home care, please chose wisely. Also, consider using an oral probiotic to supplement your oral microbiome to maintain optimal oral health. Please leave any questions or comments below and I would be happy to help.
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