Have you ever heard of 0.07% Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC)? Of course not, but if you’ve ever gargled with LISTERINE*, you’ve tasted it. It seems this long-named compound has the important capability of decreasing the viral load of COVID-19 within 30 seconds of exposure. That’s impressive and means that mouthwashes containing CPC kill COVID-19 very quickly. At least that is what has been shown in laboratory tests. “Lab conditions” (in vitro) have been produced that mimic the condition of the naso/oropharynx of people. Covid-19 was introduced to this environment and CPC was added to see the effect. CPC killed the virus within 30 seconds. Wow! Tests on actual human saliva are yet to be done, however. That will be the most important information. If CPC kills COVID-19 in saliva, coronavirus transmission could be greatly reduced.

CPC has been used in multiple clinical trials as a treatment against respiratory infections “validating its use as an anti-viral.” Mouthwashes containing CPC are recommended prior to dental procedures “to reduce SARS-CoV-2 viral load from previous dental procedures and to reduce the cross-infection risk while treating patients during the pandemic.”

So it seems from multiple studies, mouthwashes with Cetylpyridinium chloride “play an important role in reducing the viral load of the salivary virus. This is proved by the use of mouthwash before dental procedures to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to the dental team and the use of this mouthwash in COVID-19 patients to help improve systemic problems associated with oral microbial flora.”

Using mouthwash is much like washing your hands—it’s very wise hygienically and reduces the spread of disease. The articles referenced specifically recommended DENTYL and LISTERINE* mouthwashes. LISTERINE* has such a nasty taste, I’ve never been inclined to use it repeatedly. Once was enough. Maybe that has changed by now. It certainly needed to because if it’s effective, palatability is important for getting people to use it.

*ADDENDUM: Subsequent reading has revealed acetaldehyde, a component of alcohol, has been suggested as an oral carcinogen, ie. It can cause oral cancer. Regular users of mouthwashes with high alcohol content (up to 20%) have an increased risk of oral cancer whereas occasional users do not. Better alternatives to LISTERINE are alcohol-free CLOSYS, or Xlear nasal spray. The last two products have the desired affect on COVID-19.

References: Mahdied-Sadat M, et al. Antiviral mouthwashes: possible benefit for COVID-19 with evidence-based approach. J Oral Microbiol 2020 Jul 17;12(1):1794363.

Baker N, Williams AJ, Tropsha A, Elkins S. Repurposing Quaternary Ammonium Compounds as Potential Treatments for COVID-19. Pharm Res 2020 May 25;37(104):1-4.

Vagaries-Buenaventura A, Castro-Ruiz C. Use of mouthwashes against COVID-19 in dentistry. Br J Oral Maxillo Surg 2020 58:924-927.

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