To gargle or not to gargle? What a question!

Gargling should be a daily habit – for many and varied reasons, and there is a mouthful of scientific evidence to prove why. But the topic is fraught with dental dilemmas… To brush or to gargle? How frequently to gargle? What to gargle with? How long to gargle for? And, most importantly, can a mouthwash help in the fight against COVID-19?

Betadine®, the household name that has been used as an effective antiseptic since 1955, helps to shed some light on the topic.


Fact 1: How frequently you should gargle depends on your needs.

The daily routine of using mouthwash once a day for 30 seconds helps keep your mouth in tip-top shape and reduces the risk of bacterial or viral infections. But the minute your throat feels itchy or sore you should increase the frequency to four times a day.1 More than 85% of all sore throat infections in adults and children younger than five years of age are caused by viruses, which can’t be treated with antibacterial solutions or antibiotics.3 As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure, and by using an anti-bacterial solution regularly, you can prevent a throat infection.4 With a 30-second gargle, four times a day, a mouthwash offers a medicated formulation for the treatment and protection against oral and throat infection.7


Fact 2: Not all mouthwashes do the same job.

The benefits you’ll get from using a mouthwash daily depend greatly on the type of product you’re using. There are two types of mouthwashes – cosmetic and therapeutic. Rinsing with a cosmetic mouthwash will loosen bits of food from your teeth, lessen bacteria in your mouth, temporarily reduce bad breath and leave a refreshing taste in your mouth. Therapeutic mouthwashes contain additional active ingredients such as essential oils, chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium and fluoride, which have been proven to reduce plaque or fight cavities.8A mouthwash that contains a povidone-iodine medicated solution is effective in killing the germs associated with both viral and bacterial infections.2


Fact 3: A combination of brushing and gargling is your best route to dental health.

Mouthwash cannot replace brushing your teeth. Regular flossing and brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush does a much more effective job of removing plaque and debris than mouthwash alone.8 Research shows that gargling with a medicated mouthwash with antibacterial properties as part of your oral care routine not only improves the overall cleanliness of your mouth and helps to keep gum inflammation at bay, it can also kill germs and reduce the risk of contracting flu.1


Fact 4: Gargle for at least 30 seconds for maximum results.

Mouthwashes are at their most effective when in contact with your mouth tissues for 30 seconds1 per use. If you find they are too strong or sting you should dilute them with water, and some mouthwashes are designed to be diluted. The most important advice is to use mouthwash as directed by the manufacturer.8


Fact 5: There is an active ingredient that can help in the fight against COVID-19.

Povidone-iodine (PVP-I) is a powerful antiseptic ingredient recommended by the South African Dental Association6 in their dental protocol in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. PVP-I has been scientifically proven to kill the COVID-19 virus in 30 seconds, in laboratory tests. In July this year, results of laboratory tests conducted at a Singapore medical school were published that recognised the “broad-spectrum antimicrobial and rapid virucidal activity of PVP-I products against the SARS-CoV-2 virus”.5 Betadine® Mouthwash and Gargle which contains PVP-I is distributed by Mundipharma and is available at leading pharmacies nationwide. It can be used daily as a mouthwash to kill germs associated with viral and bacterial infections in the mouth, as well as throat.

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1 Kanagalingam J, Feliciano R, Hah JH, et al. Practical use of povidone-iodine antiseptic in the maintenance of oral health and in the prevention and treatment of common oropharyngeal infections. Int J Clin Pract. 2015;69(11):1247-56.

2 Betadine® Mouthwash & Gargle package insert. Published March 1996

3 Worrall G. Acute sore throat. Can Fam Physician. 2011;57(7):791-4.

4 Data on file. FAQ – How is Betadine Mouthwash & Gargle different from most cosmetic mouthwash brands on the market. 2020. Accessed 30 Sept 2020. Available from:

5 Anderson DE, Sivalingam V, Kang AEZ, et al. Povidone-iodine demonstrates rapid in vitro virucidal activity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19 disease. Infect Dis Ther. 2020;9:669-75.

6 The South African Dental Association. SADA dental clinical protocol in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020.

7 Data on file. FAQ – Are antibiotics necessary for a sore throat. 2020. Accessed 30 Sept 2020. Available from:

8 Bendall L. 6 myths about mouthwash that might be hurting your health. Accessed 30 Sept 2020. Available from:

9 Betadine® [Internet]. 2020. Accessed 30 Sept 2020. Available from: