What is a Chlorhexidine Mouthwash?

This blog post will address the topic, “Chlorhexidine Mouthwash” and cover topics like what is chlorhexidine mouthwash, uses of chlorhexidine mouthwash, how to use chlorhexidine mouthwash, side effects of using chlorhexidine mouthwash, if chlorhexidine mouthwash can expire and if chlorhexidine mouthwash can stain your teeth.

What is a Chlorhexidine Mouthwash?

Chlorhexidine mouthwash is a therapeutic mouthwash often prescribed by dentists to kill and control oral bacteria and thus prevent oral infections.

Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic and thus useful in the treatment of mouth ulcers, sore throats, oral infections, and gum diseases.

It is also beneficial in denture care and care of teeth after braces.

Uses Of Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

Chlorhexidine mouthwash is an antiseptic as well as a disinfectant and therefore has a broad use in:

  • Treatment of gum diseases such as gingivitis and bleeding gums
  • Oral ulcers
  • Sore Throats
  • Reducing oral bacteria and plaque formation

How To Use Chlorhexidine Mouthwash?

Chlorhexidine mouthwash must be used as prescribed by your dentist or as suggested by dental hygienists.

However, the usual dose of chlorhexidine mouthwash is 10ml, twice a day.

Steps to use chlorhexidine mouthwash:

  • In a measuring cup, pour 10ml of chlorhexidine mouthwash and rinse your mouth for 1 minute
  • After 1 minute, spit out the mouthwash
  • Make sure not to swallow the mouthwash
  • Do not eat or drink or brush or rinse your mouth with water after 30 minutes to 60 minutes of mouthwash rinse

Are There Any Side Effects Of Using Chlorhexidine Mouthwash?

Yes, chlorhexidine mouthwash may have certain side effects in some people using them. The common side effects of using chlorhexidine mouthwash are:

  • Staining of teeth
  • Change in taste
  • Dry mouth
  • Tingling and burning sensation in mouth and throat
  • Change in colour of the tongue

If these symptoms do not go away or you observe them worsening, consult your dentist immediately.

Can Chlorhexidine Mouthwash Expire?

Yes, Chlorhexidine mouthwash can expire. Most of the mouthwash, if stored properly, lasts for almost two or three years from the date of manufacture. 

However, the expiration dates may vary depending upon the type of mouthwash and the composition of the mouthwash.

In antimicrobial mouthwash, with time, antimicrobial agents in the mouthwash dissolve, break down and lose their effectiveness due to the high-water content in these mouthwashes. 

Chlorhexidine, one of the main antimicrobial ingredients in the mouthwash, is known to become harmful after its expiration date and therefore needs to be discarded.

Chlorhexidine-based mouthwash may last around four to five years from the date of manufacture. However, it is always recommended to fully read the instructions, label, and expiration date on the mouthwash bottle.

Can Chlorhexidine Mouthwash Stain Teeth?

Yes, excessive use of chlorhexidine mouthwash has been known to stain teeth. 

According to a review published in the International Journal Of Dental Hygiene, chlorhexidine mouthwash resulted in more significant tooth discoloration compared to chlorhexidine gel.

Chlorhexidine gluconate reacts with leftover food additives most commonly tannins found in tea and coffee.

Chlorhexidine reacts with tannins to produce brown stains on the tooth surface that can be removed using abrasive toothpaste or dental scaling and polishing done by a professional.


This blog post addressed the topic, “Chlorhexidine mouthwash”. We understood what chlorhexidine mouthwash is, the uses of chlorhexidine mouthwash, how to use chlorhexidine mouthwash, side effects of using chlorhexidine mouthwash, if chlorhexidine mouthwash can expire and if chlorhexidine mouthwash can stain your teeth.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

Is chlorhexidine safe for mouth?

Chlorhexidine has been found to cause certain side effects like teeth staining, altered taste, and change in colour of tongue and restorations.

In a recent study, chlorhexidine mouthwash after 7-days of use, lead to increased acidic environment in the oral cavity favouring dental caries formation.

The same study concluded that 7-days of chlorhexidine mouthwash use, lead to a reduction in the number of oral nitrate-reducing bacteria (bacteria that reduce oral nitrate and prevent heart diseases and maintain blood pressure), thus compromising heart health.

It is therefore advised to use chlorhexidine only as per your doctor’s or dentist’s prescription.

How long should I use chlorhexidine mouthwash?

You should use chlorhexidine mouthwash as per your dentist’s recommendation. 

However, a recent study concluded that the effect of chlorhexidine mouthwash was similar for both short term (4-6 weeks) and long term (6 months) use.

As far as the frequency of using chlorhexidine mouthwash is concerned, there is no strong evidence available. It is therefore suggested to follow your dentist’s advice in this regard.

However, using chlorhexidine mouthwash twice a day is considered good for reducing gum problems.

Which is better, Listerine or chlorhexidine?

In a clinical trial, it was found that chlorhexidine was better than Listerine in maintaining lower plaque levels and better gingival health over a 3-week use without any brushing and flossing.

In a comparative study published in the journal of international oral health, it was concluded that chlorhexidine mouthwash was better than Listerine in reducing plaque growth.

Is Listerine a chlorhexidine mouthwash?

No, Listerine is not a chlorhexidine mouthwash. 

It is a phenolic mouthwash containing methyl salicylate, eucalyptol, thymol, and menthol as its active ingredients. 

Can I use salt water instead of chlorhexidine?

Yes, you can use salt water instead of chlorhexidine for routine use.

A study found saltwater to be as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash in reducing plaque.

However, the same study found saltwater to be less effective in reducing dental caries causing bacteria.

The study concluded that saltwater can be used along with brushing and flossing in regular routine use.

Can Chlorhexidine mouthwash cause a sore throat?

A 2017 published review paper reports chlorhexidine mouthwash to be a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and thus to be effective against a wide variety of infections including sore throat.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Oral-Medical Sciences, mouthwash was found to significantly reduce the incidences of oral dryness, halitosis, and sore throat.

However, a research study published in the journal of advanced medical and dental sciences research, reports incidences of sore throat and or sore mouth in uncontrolled diabetic patients using 0.12% of chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash.

Other FAQs about Mouthwash that you may be interested in.

Is Listerine a chlorhexidine mouthwash?

How To Use Chlorhexidine Mouthwash With Water?

Why Does Listerine Burn My Tongue?


The Advantages and Disadvantages of Chlorhexidine Mouthwash. (2018)


Chlorhexidine. (2021)


How mouthwash can give you bad breath and stain your teeth


Manuel, S. T., P. Abhishek, and M. Kundabala. “Etiology of tooth discoloration-a review.” Etiology of tooth discoloration-a review 18.2 (2010): 56-63.

Effects of Chlorhexidine mouthwash on the oral microbiome. (2020)


Chlorhexidine mouthrinse as an adjunctive treatment for gingival health. (2017)


Listerine – ScienceDirect


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