Studies conducted by Colgate-Palmolive over the past several years suggest certain oral care products may play a role in temporarily reducing the amount of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — in your mouth. Laboratory tests found that specific kinds of toothpaste with zinc, stannous fluoride, or amine fluoride, as well as mouthwashes with cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine, or stannous fluoride/amine fluoride, neutralized the virus by more than 99%. Additionally, clinical tests performed with COVID-19 positive patients showed certain mouthwashes with CPC (including with zinc), hydrogen peroxide, or chlorhexidine, as well as specific toothpastes with zinc or stannous fluoride, significantly reduced the amount of virus in the mouth for at least 30 minutes after use. We conducted this program to help understand if our initial laboratory research could translate into temporarily reduced virus levels in the mouth, and what this may mean for you. Importantly, while there is no evidence that the tested products can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19, or alleviate its symptoms, and the products are not intended to be used for these purposes, regular brushing and rinsing can play an important role in keeping your mouth clean and healthy. Keep reading for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q&A ON COLGATE-PALMOLIVE LABORATORY AND CLINICAL RESULTS ON EFFECTS OF TOOTHPASTE AND MOUTHWASH ON COVID-19 VIRUS
1. Can oral care products protect me from contracting or transmitting COVID-19?
If the virus that causes COVID-19 is detected in your mouth, then you have already been infected. There is currently no evidence that the use of oral care products can prevent you from getting the virus. Additional large scale studies are necessary to determine whether lowering the amount of the virus in saliva — which can be transmitted through talking, singing, or coughing — may help reduce the risk of transmission to others.
2. Can oral care products make my COVID-19 symptoms less severe or help me recover more quickly?
No, there is no evidence that use of oral care products can make your COVID-19 symptoms less severe or help you recover more quickly. Many factors contribute to the length and severity of COVID-19, including the strength of your immune system. Our products are not intended to be used nor approved to prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19, or alleviate its symptoms.
3. Which toothpastes and mouthwashes neutralized SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory test by 99% and more?
Toothpastes tested include certain formulas with zinc, stannous fluoride, or amine fluoride.
Mouthwashes and sprays tested include certain formulas with 0.075% CPC, 0.075% CPC+Zn, 1.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 0.12% chlorhexidine.
As noted, laboratory results are not necessarily reflective of what will actually happen in the mouth, which is why additional large-scale studies are required.
4. Which mouthwashes significantly reduced the amount of virus in the mouth for at least 30 minutes in your clinical studies?
Formulas tested were: (1) 1.5% hydrogen peroxide, (2) 0.12% chlorhexidine, (3) 0.075% CPC, and (4) 0.075% CPC plus 0.28% zinc. The CPC-only formula reduced the amount of virus for 30 minutes, while the others reduced the amount of virus for 60 minutes.
5. What does it mean to “neutralize the virus”?
To “neutralize the virus” means that while the virus is present and can be detected through molecular and biochemical measures, it is no longer infectious and can no longer multiply in the host.
6. How do oral care products help to neutralize the virus?
Current research suggests that the tested oral care products disrupt the viral envelope to dissolve it. Losing or damaging this outer coating will prevent the virus from attaching to cells and infecting them.
7. Should I brush or rinse before going out or meeting people?
Oral care should be part of your daily personal hygiene routine, and you should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and wash your hands where appropriate to help prevent virus transmission. There is currently no evidence that brushing or rinsing prevents, treats, or cures COVID-19, or alleviates its symptoms. Additional large scale studies are necessary to determine whether lowering the amount of virus in saliva, which can be transmitted through talking, singing, or coughing, might help reduce the risk of transmission to others. Regular brushing and rinsing is key to maintaining good oral health.
8. How do laboratory test results represent what happens in a person's mouth?
Laboratory testing is designed to show whether the test products can neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Colgate-Palmolive has conducted additional clinical research to determine whether similar results occur in the mouth to help neutralize and temporarily lower virus levels. That clinical research shows that viral loads can be reduced immediately after and remain low for at least 30 minutes for certain mouthrinses containing either 0.075% CPC, 0.075% CPC+Zn, 1.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 0.12% chlorhexidine, and certain toothpastes containing either stannous fluoride or zinc.
9. Did you test competitor products?
We did not test competitor products.
10. If I brush my teeth or rinse with mouthwash, do I need to wear a mask?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone wear face masks in areas of high community transmission to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Continue to follow guidelines that help prevent the contraction and spread of COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands where appropriate.
11. Does brushing your teeth or rinsing with mouthwash have any effect on your antibodies?
No, brushing your teeth or rinsing with mouthwash will not have any impact on your antibodies.
12. Does every toothpaste neutralize the virus that causes COVID-19?
We have conducted laboratory studies of select toothpaste formulas with zinc, stannous fluoride, or amine fluoride to determine whether they neutralize the virus that causes COVID-19. We have also conducted a clinical study on toothpastes with zinc or stannous fluoride. We do not have any data on other toothpastes which do not contain these ingredients.
13. Does brushing my teeth impact the amount of the virus that causes COVID-19 in my mouth?
While our SARS-CoV-2 laboratory results are encouraging, we conducted a clinical study to determine whether these effects will also occur in the mouth. That study found that COVID-19 positive subjects that brushed with certain toothpaste formulas including stannous fluoride or zinc temporarily reduced the amount of virus in their mouths for 30 minutes.
14. How long will the tested toothpastes reduce the level of virus that causes COVID-19 in the mouth?
Our clinical study of COVID-19 positive subjects found that certain toothpaste formulas including stannous fluoride or zinc temporarily reduced the amount of virus in their mouths for 30 minutes.
Mouth Rinse/Mouth Spray:
15. Does every mouthwash or mouth spray neutralize the virus that causes COVID-19?
We have conducted laboratory studies of select mouthwash/mouth spray formulas with 0.075% CPC, 0.075% CPC+0.28% zinc, 1.5% hydrogen peroxide, 0.12% chlorhexidine, or stannous fluoride/amine fluoride to determine whether they neutralize the virus that causes COVID-19. We do not have any data on other mouthwashes or mouth sprays which do not contain these ingredients.
16. Does every mouthwash temporarily reduce the amount of virus in the mouth?
We conducted testing of formulas with (1) 1.5% hydrogen peroxide, (2) 0.12% chlorhexidine, (3) 0.075% CPC, and (4) 0.075% CPC plus 0.28% zinc, and are pleased to report their effectiveness in temporarily reducing the amount of virus in the mouth for at least 30 minutes. We did not test other products.
17. Does Chlorhexidine (CHX) 0.12% and 0.2% work as well as hydrogen peroxide?
The studies were not designed to compare the effectiveness between products.
18. How much will rinsing with mouthwash or using mouth spray reduce the amount of virus in my mouth?
Laboratory tests showed that in either 30 or 60 seconds of contact time, certain mouth rinses, including those with cetylpyridinium chloride, neutralized the virus that causes COVID-19 by 99.9%. We conducted clinical studies to determine whether this neutralization effect translates into a temporary reduction of the virus in the mouth and confirmed that, for those mouth rinses tested, it does. Study results from those formulas show that rinsing as directed provides an immediate impact, significantly reducing virus levels in the mouth. These reduced virus levels are sustained up to 30 and 60 minutes after rinsing, though levels are lowest immediately after rinsing.
19. Does rinsing with mouthwash protect anyone from COVID-19?
While clinical studies show a significant temporary reduction of virus levels in the mouth using certain mouthwashes — which is sustained for 30-60 minutes after rinsing — no evidence currently exists that rinsing with a mouthwash or using a mouth spray protects against contracting or transmitting COVID-19. Rinsing regularly, however, plays an important role in maintaining good oral health. Dental professionals recommend using mouthwash as a part of a daily oral care regimen.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.