What is chlorhexidine and what is it used for?
Within the field of odontology there is a series of substances that are essential for ensuring the oral health of patients. One of these substances is chlorhexidine, an essential bactericide that helps to eliminate the pathogenic bacteria that are present in the mouth. Indeed, its function is so significant that the World Health Organization (WHO) has included chlorhexidine on its list of essential medicines thanks to its broad spectrum and functionality.
Now that you know how important it is, you won’t leave this blog without learning about all its applications, right? Continue reading this post and make sure you learn more about it.
What is chlorhexidine?
Chlorhexidine is an oral disinfectant with an antiseptic action and it is mainly used in the field of odontology to prevent and help cure lesions of the oral mucosa. It prevents the growth of bacteria in the mouth and reduces the level of infection without producing any negative consequences for the rest of the mouth.
More specifically, it has the following characteristics:
- Powerful antiseptic. Chlorhexidine reduces dental plaque; it is antibacterial, and it helps to reduce gingivitis.
- Broad spectrum. It acts against aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and even against fungi and yeasts.
- High substantivity. To ensure that there is no bacterial recolonisation, it is released gradually in an active manner over 8-12 hours.
- Various formulations. By applying different concentrations of chlorhexidine, we get formulas that can cover all phases of periodontal treatment including the maintenance and control of the disease.
When is chlorhexidine prescribed?
Given its broad functionality, this substance is recommended in different situations:
- Periodontal disease: Its antiseptic action can combat the symptoms associated with pathologies such as gingivitis or periodontitis. As soon as you notice an swelling of the gums or some kind of infection caused fundamentally by bacteria or fungi, chlorhexidine limits and impedes the growth of microorganisms or bacterial plaque, and it works as an excellent coadjutant to keep gums healthy and as part of a treatment for periodontitis.
- Periodontal surgery or oral surgery: Mouthwashes with chlorhexidine are prescribed by dentists when a patient has to undergo a surgical intervention in which there is a risk of oral infection, such as, for example, having a tooth removed or the placing of implants. This limits the risk of possible complications.
- Presence of mouth ulcers or canker sores: Mouthwashes or gels with chlorhexidine are very effective solutions to accelerate the curing of canker sores or mouth ulcers and, especially, to prevent over infection of the ulcers in the oral mucosa. However, we must understand clearly that there is no magic formula to make canker sores in the mouth disappear overnight (the healing speed depends on each person), but chlorhexidine can accelerate the process.
How to use chlorhexidine
Because of all its characteristics, chlorhexidine is found in mouthwashes, toothpaste gels and mouth sprays. However, to ensure good results, you should not commence any treatment with this substance without the supervision of an oral health professional. Improper use can cause problems to your health and the aesthetics of your dentures.
However, it is very simple to use. We will now list some of the steps that are generally recommended when using products that contain chlorhexidine, depending on the manner of application.
- Rinse your mouth with the product two or three times a day every 8-12 hours after your oral hygiene routine. The chlorhexidine remains in the mouth for 8 to 12 hours and comes into contact with the agent that is causing the infection long enough to eliminate or inhibit it.
- Keep the product in your mouth for one minute to allow it to act.
- When you have finished rinsing, spit the product out and do not consume any food or drink for at least 30 minutes. You do not need to rinse your mouth with water.
- Always use after meals and as part of an oral hygiene routine and apply the product two or three times a day on the gums using a soft brush or cotton bud.
- Wait at least 30 minutes before consuming any food or drink.
The spray format is especially suitable in the case of a localised periodontal treatment or else when the opening of the patient’s mouth is restricted or when the patient has some type of disability that makes it difficult to follow a normal oral hygiene routine.