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4 Questions You Might Ask About Chlorhexidine Gluconate Mouthrinse

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Chlorhexidine gluconate is a prescription-only mouthrinse used to reduce plaque, treat gingivitis, or treat periodontitis. Read on to learn the answers to common questions about chlorhexidine gluconate. And remember, you can always ask your dental professionals for more information.

1. What is Chlorhexidine Gluconate Mouthrinse?

Chlorhexidine gluconate is just one of the treatments available for oral health conditions like early gum disease (gingivitis) and advanced gum disease (periodontitis). According to a literature review in the Journal of Dentistry, chlorhexidine is prescribed to reduce plaque (dental biofilm), prevent cavities and infections, or treat periodontitis. Typically chlorhexidine gluconate is prescribed for temporary use.

2. How Does It Work?

Chlorhexidine gluconate is an antimicrobial: it kills bacteria throughout the mouth. Chlorhexidine can be applied in different ways. If your dental or medical professional prescribes a mouthrinse, follow the directions. According to a study in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, chlorhexidine gluconate may also be applied directly under the gumline at home or in an appointment.

3. Are There Any Side Effects?

Chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash has a few possible side effects, like a change in taste, increased tartar build-up, or staining of the teeth, gums, and dental appliances. But these side-effects typically only appear with long-term use and your dentist or physician will consider those before prescribing.

While severe side effects of using medicated mouthwash are rare, according to the University of Michigan, chlorhexidine gluconate can cause a rare but severe allergic reaction. Call your dentist or physician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms or any reaction after rinsing.

4. How Long Should I Use Chlorhexidine Gluconate Oral Rinse?

The period of treatment will be decided by the prescribing dental professional. Your dentist or physician will prescribe a specific concentration of chlorhexidine gluconate (most mouthrinses contain only .02% chlorhexidine, but it can vary) and the length of treatment.

No treatment is a substitute for proper oral hygiene. Try brushing with a toothbrush with curved, soft outer bristles to clean the gumline and firmer inner bristles to effectively clean teeth. And remember to clean between your teeth with floss, flossers, or another interdental cleaner. Talk to your dental professional about your options and they will be able to help you find the solution that fits your oral health needs best.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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