Simple 'solutions' to COVID-19

Simple 'solutions' to COVID-19

Incisive Bite

by Sharon Robinson

Sunday, October 25, 2020

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THE nasal and oral cavities as well as eyes are thought to be the main points of entry for the novel coronavirus.

Then there are mouthwashes.

Mouthwashes are widely used solutions for rinsing the mouth, due to their ability to reduce the number of microorganisms in the cavity. Though there has been increased talks recently about COVID-19 and mouthwashes, there is still no clinical evidence that its use could prevent the transmission of the virus.

In a study conducted by Penn State College of Medicine in recent months, researchers tested various oral and nasopharyngeal rinses. Common items in our homes that were tested to determine their efficacy to inactivate the human coronaviruses, included a one per cent solution of baby shampoo, a neti pot, peroxide, and mouthwashes.

Dr Craig Meyers, the Penn State professor of microbiology and immunology and obstetrics and gynaecology who led a group of physicians and scientists that tested several oral and nasopharyngeal rinses in a laboratory setting, said: “While we wait for a vaccine to be engineered, methods to reduce its transmission are needed. The products tested are readily available and often already are a part of people's daily routine.”

The study was published this week in the Journal of Medical Virology.

According to Dr Meyers, the results show that the amount of virus (or viral load) in an infected person's mouth could be reduced by using these common, over-the-counter products, possibly helping to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It is recommended, therefore, to increase the number of times one brushes and rinses daily, especially before leaving home. The antimicrobial/antiviral action of which will last for about three to four hours and will lessen the contagion of COVID-19.

In another study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases in August 2020, the same conclusion was made — oral rinses and mouthwashes may be able to reduce the viral load of COVID-19 in the mouth. However, the findings do not mean that mouthwash on its own can treat COVID-19.

While gargling with mouthwash cannot inhibit the production of viruses already within the cells, it can reduce the viral load in areas where the greatest potential for infection comes from, namely in the oral cavity and throat.

This is certainly helpful information since researchers are suggesting that the viral load of the mouth is linked to how contagious a person is likely to be. The transmission of the virus between individuals is mainly through droplets from coughing, sneezing, talking, and yes, even kissing!

Since the novel coronavirus is vulnerable to oxidation, the use of mouth rinses containing oxidative agents, for example, over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide,will be effective in reducing the salivary viral load.

Gently gargle for 30 seconds in the oral cavity and 30 seconds in the back of the throat with 1.5 per cent or three per cent hydrogen peroxide.

“The data suggests that if you have the virus in your mouth, it would kill it” and could reduce your ability to spread to others, said Dr Meyers.

Researchers believe it is too early to know exactly how these findings would affect existing COVID-19 positive patients that may spread the virus while talking or coughing.

Chief dental officer of Jamaica Dr Irving McKenzie, who is also the former dean of the College of Oral Health Sciences and Veterinarian Studies, at the University of Technology, Jamaica, told the Jamaica Observer that “increasing the daily use of oral rinses and frequency of brushing is as important as face mask wearing and hand sanitising in this battle against COVID-19”.

If it is that these simple solutions could reduce viral load in the mouth by 50 per cent, isn't that a major impact? Isn't it worth it?

Dr Sharon Robinson, DDS has offices at Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 876-630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa.

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