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I-TEAM: Why your mouthwash may stop COVID-19

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 6:08 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Something you have in your medicine cabinet right now could help stop the spread of coronavirus, and it’s not a pill. It’s not even medicine either, but it has the attention of Augusta University Health’s chief of infectious diseases.

Dr. Jose Vazquez shared the science with us in hopes you might give it a try, and you might appreciate knowing mouthwash does more than help your pearly whites.

“I mean why do we use mouthwash? To kill the organisms in our mouth,” Vazquez said.

It kills the ones that cause bad breath.

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Yes, social distancing has cut down on the need to always be minty-fresh, but your breath isn't the target here. Neither are the 6 billion bacteria in your mouth right now.

Vazquez’s number enemy number one is the coronavirus. If you’ve had a test, chances are it was a nasal swab but your mouth is also prime virus real estate.

“A lot of times instead of swabbing the nose we swab the back of the throat,” Vazquez said.

If it’s important enough to test, Vazquez believes it’s important enough to swish.

There is a science to the swish. Vazquez gave us a study where researchers note “the throat is a source of shed virus.” It’s also in “asymptomatic individuals who are also likely to be infectious.”

“Most of these mouthwashes actually have antiviral and antifungal properties also,” Vazquez said.

Not to mention they’re pretty good soldiers, as researchers note the fighters in mouthwash can be active for up to 12 hours. COVID-19 might be highly contagious, but it’s easy to kill. All you need is soap and water.

This also isn’t a cure-all or a reason to stop wearing your mask. But we all have more to gain from using mouthwash right now than we stand to lose, and we’re sure your dentist would be happy.

Some mouthwash is better than others. Researchers recommend ones with 1.5 percent hydrogen peroxide. So, make sure you check that out before you head to the checkout line.

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