Keeping your mouth healthy protects you from viruses Keeping your mouth healthy protects you from viruses

Nowadays, products such as mouthwash play a key role. Proper oral hygiene can be your first line of defense against possible infections.

Jose Iván Ochoa Escobar, dentist
Karen Romero, dentist

Repeated messages about constantly washing your hands and not touching your face are not in vain. Today, more than ever, oral hygiene is important. According to José Iván Ochoa Escobar, doctor and dentist, Faculty of Dentistry professor at the Universidad CES, it must be taken into account that the coronavirus has “a positive tropism, which is a characteristic that attracts it to nasal, oral, and ocular mucosa, three ways to enter the body.”

Once the patient accidentally brings his or her hands to these parts, the virus normally remains for seven to 10 days in those mucous membranes. According to the specialist, there are specific receptors in the mouth that are found in areas such as the floor of the mouth, the base of the tongue, the posterior bases of the roof of your mouth, the oropharynx, and the salivary glands. “There, the virus finds the cells it needs to replicate,” adds Ochoa. That is why the first line of attack against the virus is correct hygiene, and the importance of mouthwash has been discussed. How essential is it during this time?

Optimal cleaning

Although mouthwashes themselves do not cause immunity or directly prevent Covid-19, some studies reviewed by the specialist prove that they work to lower the number of viruses in the mouth. That is to say, they not only help to inactivate coronavirus, but also any other bacteria, microbe, or germ. “Mouthwashes break down the viruses’ cell walls. When this happens, the virus becomes inactive and is unable to do any damage,” states Ochoa.

A dentist should be consulted about the use of other more specific substances such as cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), chlorhexidine, povidone-iodine, and hydrogen peroxide, which should be prescribed. According to dentist Karen Romero, it is necessary to know how to use these substances if you intend to use them in pure form, since certain quantities can cause burns. Ideally, they should be held in the mouth for periods of 30 seconds to 1 minute.

“The best is CPC because it has been shown to stay in the mouth longer and can be used at home. The rest are for professional use because they need to be diluted. The rinse allows it to reach the small corners of the mouth, and that is why it is more effective,” explained Karen Romero.

The experts agreed that the substances do not have any negative effects on the teeth as long as they are used properly. However, following the instructions of a health professional is recommended in order to avoid possible allergic reactions or side effects.

The use of mouthwash can promote the reduction of bacteria and viruses in the mouth. Consulting with a professional is key for finding the right product.