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A new study suggests a minty mouth might not be the only result
Mouthwash could do more than keep your breath fresh: It might actually kill the bacteria that cause the sexually transmitted infection (STI) gonorrhoea, a new study suggests.
Australian researchers mixed either Listerine Cool Mint and Total Care or a saline solution with gonorrhoea cultures. Afterward, the number of bacteria in the mouthwash—but not the saline— decreased significantly.
To see if this approach held promise for people, they then tested it on 58 men who had sex with men and tested positive for gonorrhoea in the mouth or throat.
The mouthwash dramatically cut down on the gonorrhoea bacteria: Only 52 percent of Listerine users still tested positive for gonorrhoea afterward, compared to 54 percent of men who rinsed with saline.
Combatting this common STI is especially crucial as it spreads at escalating rates and develops antibiotic resistance. But this study still leaves some questions unanswered.
For instance, this remedy only proved effective for gonorrhoea in the mouth—mostly the area around the tonsils—but the infection can also show up in the urethra or rectum.
Still, researchers believe a good portion of the other two types start in the mouth or throat, so it’s possible that mouth-rinsing could nip the STI in the bud before it spreads further.
So what does the study findings mean for your STI risk? We’re asking experts and will report back on its real-world implications.