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Chlorhexidine mouthwash

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Chlorhexidine mouthwash is used to treat inflammation, swelling, and bleeding caused by inflamed or infected gums (gingivitis). It works by killing microorganisms in the mouth and can be used to speed up the recovery and reduce the pain from mouth ulcers, irritation caused by dentures, and other painful mouth conditions. Your dentist or doctor will determine if you would benefit from a prescription for this product.

Chlorhexidine is known by the branded versions Peridex and PerioGard or is available in a generic version. It is important to know that chlorhexidine can cause teeth staining and is for short-term use only. Only use for the amount of time recommended by your doctor or dentist.

Who is it for?

Chlorhexidine is a highly effective treatment for inflamed or infected gums and other mouth conditions. It is approved for use in adults over 18 years.

How do you use it?

Thoroughly rinse your mouth for about one minute with 10 ml (2 teaspoonsful) twice daily. Spit out after use. For the treatment of inflamed or infected gums (gingivitis), a course of around one month is usually advised. In the case of mouth ulcers, treatment should be continued for 48 hours after the ulcers have healed. If treating infections related to dentures, they should be cleaned and soaked in chlorhexidine for fifteen minutes twice daily. Chlorhexidine mouthwash may not be compatible with some ingredients in toothpaste; therefore, it is recommended to thoroughly rinse your mouth before using toothpaste.

Should anyone avoid taking it?

Chlorhexidine should not be used by children under 18 years unless directed by a dentist or doctor. Severe gum infections can develop into a more serious form of gum disease for which chlorhexidine is ineffective. If you have severe symptoms or have had symptoms for a long time that are not improving, you should see your dentist for review. While chlorhexidine appears safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding, it should only be used under advice from your dentist or doctor.

Are there any side effects?

As with any medication, some people are bound to get some unwanted side effects. The most common is discoloration of the teeth and tongue. The stain is not permanent and can largely be prevented by reducing the intake of staining foods like tea, coffee, or red wine.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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