Remember how as a kid your dentist always told you not to forget to brush your tongue? Well, it turns out that advice might have been life-saving in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic!
A recent study actually suggests that brushing your tongue might just prevent COVID-19 infection.
In homes where at least one person tested positive for Coronavirus, people who brushed their tongues daily were less likely to become infected, according to the report published last October in BMC Oral Health.
Brushing your tongue has always been a vital part of overall mouth hygiene. Your tongue is a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, and brushing is the most effective way possible to sanitize it – much more effective than using mouth wash alone.
This study has shown that SARS-CoV-2 may also be one of those viruses that if accumulated on the tongue can be countered with brushing.
Researchers hoped to determine with the study whether poor dental hygiene would facilitate the spread of COVID-19 among people living together.
Approximately 300 people living in Spain who shared a bathroom with another person were sent an online questionnaire in April 2020, four weeks after the country was locked down due to the pandemic. Approximately 170 people were cross-infected from housemates, the researchers found.
It was tongue brushing that proved to be the most effective in containing the spread of the virus. Participants who reported they brushed their teeth two or more times daily, flossed every day and used daily rinse were infected at a higher rate.
It turns out, other oral hygiene techniques didn’t have as much of an effect, even though they’re still great for your dental and whole-body health. Toothbrushing, flossing, or using oral rinses did not a make significant difference in whether those living in the same house became infected.
“Even common infection control measures such as sanitizing toothbrushes and not sharing toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes did not prevent some cross-infection,” the authors wrote.
“The tongue acts as a reservoir of COVID-19 and the study’s results can be interpreted to mean that brushing the tongue is important for decreasing viral load,” wrote the group, led by María José González‑Olmo of the dentistry department at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid.
Preliminary research has suggested that the mouth is a robust site for infection and transmission of Coronavirus and that maintaining good oral hygiene also may stop the spread.
The study’s limitations, according to the authors, were self-reported data and the aerosol and surface viability of SARS-CoV-2 at the homes could not be measured due to lockdowns.
Nevertheless, it’s a vital reminder to maintain good oral hygiene.