The 3T of proper gargling

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dr. Arie Cahyono, Sp.THT-KL(K)
dr. Arie Cahyono, Sp.THT-KL(K). Photo: Esti/IO

Jakarta, IO – To commemorate World Oral Health Day on 20 March, the Indonesian the Ear, Nose, Throat, Head, and Neck Specialists Association (Perhimpunan Dokter Spesialis Telinga, Hidung, Tenggorok, Kepala, dan Leher – “Perhati-KL”) joined forces with PT Mundipharma Healthcare Indonesia and the Ministry of Health to launch the “Indonesia Gargle Time” campaign on Tuesday (15/03/2022). It promotes gargling with Povidone-Iodine (PVP-I), which will improve oral cavity hygiene and provide extra protection against infectious diseases, including Covid-19. 

The Ministry’s Director of the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases, Dr. drh. Didik Budijanto, M.Kes., stated that the Government continuously promotes clean and healthy living to ensure that people become more aware of healthy lifestyle and implement it. “Clean and healthy living” includes, among others, giving birth in sterile health facilities; feeding an infant exclusively breast milk where possible; monthly weighing of babies; regular consumption of fruit and vegetables; regular physical activity; using clean water to drink, bathe, and wash; washing hands regularly with water and soap; destroying mosquito larva at least once a week; using hygienic toilet facilities; and stopping a smoking habit. 

“Clean and healthy living will be smoother to implement when accompanied by education on the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of the upper respiratory tract, and making gargling part of the effort to prevent communicable diseases. Gargling is about 3T: Tuang (Pour), Teguk (Gulp), Tengadah (Tilt Back). Pour a measure of the gargling fluid, gulp it, keep it in your throat for a while, then tilt your head back 45 degrees. Breathe through your nose for 30 seconds before spitting it out,” drh. Didik said. 

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Gargling also helps reduce swelling in the gums. Photo: Abbas Almatin

At the same event, PP Perhati-KL Chairwoman Prof. Dr. dr. Jenny Bashiruddin, Sp.THT-KL(K) elaborates on the importance of habituating gargling in daily living. “The cleanliness of all parts of the upper respiratory tract – the nose, the mouth, the throat – is extremely important in the effort to prevent Covid-19 infection. Disseminating information on the proper way to gargle is our way to get the people to understand its benefits, to encourage them to invest in gargling as a small daily habit with a huge health impact. Gurgling is only swishing the cleansing fluid in the oral cavity, while gargling gets the fluid all the way down to the throat,” Prof. Jenny stated. 

Boiled Water and Salt 

Head of the Perhati-KL Larynx-Pharynx Study Group dr. Arie Cahyono, Sp.THT-KL(K) states that gargling, i.e. swishing fluids in the base of the throat is the way to clear away the germs that have already entered the upper respiratory tract and lodged themselves in the throat. This action reduces the odds ratio of fever in children, of the incidence of upper-respiratory tract infection by 36%, and even prevents acute upper respiratory tract infections. Since the pandemic, people have begun to appreciate gargling as a means to maintain oral cavity hygiene. However, many of them still do not do it properly and regularly. 

“For extra protection, the antiseptic PVP-I can be an option for gargling fluid due to its wide spectrum: it effectively kills off germs, bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause illnesses in the mouth and throat. Gargling also helps reduce swelling in the gums, throat pains, mouth ulcer, halitosis, and bad breath. There is no need to worry about side effects, as gargling using PVP-I does not cause irritation or other damage to the oral mucous layer. Just do it for thirty seconds twice a day, or according to need like before heading out to meet people and when you get back,” dr. Arie said. 

Is it safe for children? When should they start gargling? “Yes, it’s very safe for children six years old or more. Since children’s fine motor control is imperfect, there is a risk that they may choke, or swallow the fluid. Use plain water for learning under parental supervision. Avoid using alcoholic fluid, use warm cooked plain water mixed with a bit or salt or green tea instead,” dr. Arie said. “Finally, refrain from eating or drinking anything for up to 30 minutes after gargling to optimize its effects.” (est)