Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic and disinfectant agent. The most popular mouthwash containing chlorhexidine is Corsodyl, but chlorhexidine mouthwash is also available without a brand name.
WHEN TO USE CHLORHEXIDINE MOUTHWASH
- acute gum conditions
- mouth ulcers
- when toothbrushing is difficult, e.g. following an oral surgery
- candidal (fungus) infection
- adjunct treatment for minor throat infections
- as an disinfectant for removable dentures
Corsodyl is the most popular chlorhexidine mouthwash. It is available as 0.2% mouthwash and 0.06% daily mouthwash.
What is the difference?
0.2% is a powerful concentration and should only be used to treat acute gum conditions, e.g. when the gums are sore, to assist with toothbrushing and flossing, to aid reduce inflammation at an initial stage of the gum disease treatment, or to help heal mouth ulcers. It is usually recommended to use for 7-10 days and should not be use for longer than 2 weeks.
If used for longer periods of time, chlorhexidine mouthwash may produce a number of side-effects:
- difficult to remove brown-black staining of the teeth
- non-permanent staining of the tongue
- burning sensation in the mouth
- peeling of the inside of the mouth
- temporary taste alteration
Staining of the teeth can be avoided by not having black tea, coffee, red wine, berries, curry, and other foods or drinks that may stain the teeth for an hour after using chlorhexidne mouthwash.
SHOULD I USE 0.2% CHLORHEXIDINE MOUTHWASH OR 0.06% DAILY MOUTHWASH?
For acute gum conditions and during initial stage of the gum disease treatment use 0.2% chlorhexidine mouthwash as this is a gold-standard, most effective, supported with clinical evidence agent of choice. Your dentist or hygienist may recommend the use of daily 0.06% mouthwash at a later stage of the treatment to support and maintain the results. It should be used with caution as even though it contains less chlorhexidine it may still produce staining on the teeth.
IS IT GOING TO TREAT THE GUM DISEASE?
No - it only helps to reduce the inflammation of the swollen, red an bleeding gums. It is used along with regular, thorough toothbrushing and flossing.
The cause of gum disease is the dental plaque, which can be removed only by brushing and interdental cleaning. 0.2% chlorhexidine mouthwash used alone would only reduce the bacterial load in the dental plaque.
So it is important to remember that while chlorhexidine mouthwash may reduce the redness and bleeding of the gums, it would not remove the cause of bleeding.
HOW TO USE CHLORHEXIDINE MOUTHWASH?
Most toothpastes contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) which helps the toothpaste foam. However it can stop chlorhexidine from working, do not use it straight after brushing. Use it at different time during the day or 10-15 minutes before brushing.
You could also rinse throughly with water after brushing and use it afterwards - but then you lose the beneficial effect of fluoride in the toothpaste as you would have rinsed it off completely.
Corsodyl is also available as a strong (1%) concentration gel and should be used in localised areas of inflammation, e.g. ulcers, or on floss / interdental brush in areas requiring targeted treatment, such as deep infected pockets around the teeth. Corsodyl gel is not used for regular toothbrushing.
ARE THERE OTHER CHLORHEXIDINE MOUTHWASHES AVAILABLE?
Yes, there are chlorhexidne mouthwashes with no brand name available, at a concentration of 0.2%, which you can get from a pharmacy.
There are also a few other chlorhexidine mouthwash brands:
Contains 0.1% chlorhexidine. It is milder and therefore may produce less staining on the teeth.
IN THE USA
In the USA, chlorhexidne mouthwashes are available as chlorhexidine 0.12% rinse, Periogard 0.12%, Peridex 0.12% and Paroex 0.12% oral rinses.
Never use Corsodyl or any other chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwashes if you might me allergic to chlorhexidine.
Symptoms of severe allergic reaction include: mouth or skin rash / itching, especially face / tongue / throat, severe dizziness and difficulties breathing.