Medication for STDs is costly, but a recent study found that antiseptic mouthwash, specifically Listerine, could be an easier and cheaper way to treat sexually transmitted infections than those expensive antibiotics.
The study, conducted by Melbourne Sexual Health Center in Australia and was recently published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, found that gargling the minty mouthwash is effective in killing gonorrhea bacteria (a relatively common STI which can be passed on through oral sex) in subjects' mouths and throats.
Scientists, led by author Dr. Eric Chow, tested different dilutions of the mouthwash and application times, comparing the results to saline solution.
Mouthwash and saline solution were then distributed to 58 gay and bisexual men who had previously tested positive for gonorrhea in their mouths and throat between May 2015 and February 2016.
The researchers split the group in two—33 men assigned to rinse and gargle with Listerine, and 25 doing the same with a saline solution.
Those using the salt water solution, the researchers revealed, cut their bacteria only by just 16 per cent. On the other hand, the men using the mouthwash solution were 80 per cent less likely to test positive for gonorrhea in their throat five minutes after gargling.
“Listerine mouthwash at dilutions of up to 1:4 for 1 minute resulted in significant reduction of total N. gonorrhea counts,” the researchers said. “After gargling the allocated solution, men in the Listerine group were significantly less likely to be culture positive on the pharyngeal surface compared with men in the saline group."
The team concluded: "This data suggest Listerine, significantly reduces the amount of N. gonorrhoeae on the pharyngeal surface. With daily use it may increase gonococcal clearance and have important implications for prevention strategies."
However, they say more research is needed to confirm if mouthwash is an effective way to curb the spread of gonorrhea bacteria for over a long period of time.
His team will also test different flavors and other mouthwash brands.
It's also important to note that the said mouthwash did not fund the study.