Simple Oral Rinse Can Inactivate COVID-19 Virus

Dentistry Today


A diluted version of over-the-counter povidone-iodine (PVP-I) oral rinse can kill viruses such as the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and prevent transmission in as little as 15 seconds, according to UConn Health, which is researching ways to decontaminate patient oral and nasal cavities to protect healthcare providers and prevent transmission.

“We were not satisfied with the safety provided by the mouth masks and face shields,” said Dr. Avinash Bidra, clinical associate professor of prosthodontics at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. “Almost all procedures involve aerosol production, resulting in a higher risk for clinicians, assistants, and patients.”

PVP-I solutions are typically sold over the counter at 10% concentration as an antiseptic for wounds. The researchers tested three different diluted concentrations at 1.5%, 1%, and 0.5% at three different contact times of 15, 30, and 45 seconds. The 0.5% concentration and 15-second contact period was enough to completely inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory.

The researchers recommend using 9.5 ml of water and 0.5 ml of a commercially available 10% povidine-iodine antiseptic solution to create a 0.5% diluted solution. The dilution should be done immediately before rinsing, and the rinsing should be for a minimum of 30 seconds. The only contradiction is for anyone allergic to iodine, pregnant, or having thyroid problems.

“This is a simple and inexpensive method to protect oneself when coming in close contact with people,” said Bidra. “We believe this has immediate and tremendous dental public health impact for patients and for dental professionals, amidst the ongoing pandemic.”

The researchers have extensively researched the safety of PVP-I in the oral and nasal cavity, UConn Health said, and are looking forward to the added protection it will offer for clinicians in addition to typical personal protective equipment (PPE).

“The safety of povidone-iodine in the sinonasal and oral cavity has been well documented and we have shown that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be rapidly inactivated by a topical application,” said Dr. Belachew Tessema, associate professor in the division of otolaryngology at the UConn School of Medicine and ENT physician at ProHealth Physicians.

“Studies have shown that the nasal and oropharyngeal cells are reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2 infection. We believe that nasal and oral decontamination with PVP-I may play an adjunctive role in mitigating viral transmission beyond PPE.”

The researchers are also optimistic that this method can benefit those engaged in high risk activities outside of a dental or otolaryngologic setting.

“Anyone engaging in risky activities like barbers, hair dressers, or anyone coming too close to another person may benefit from this simple method,” said Bidra.

The study, “Rapid In-Vitro Inactivation of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Using Povidone-Iodine Oral Antiseptic Rinse,” was published by the Journal of Prosthodontics.

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