How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Chlorhexidine gluconate belongs to a class of medications called topical antiseptics. It is used as part of a dental program to treat and manage moderate-to-severe gingivitis. This condition is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria, which may be associated with bleeding. Chlorhexidine, when used as an oral rinse, kills certain bacteria in the mouth and helps restore the gums to their healthy condition.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
ORO-Clense is a green-coloured, spearmint-flavored oral rinse that contains 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate. Nonmedicinal ingredients: ethanol, FD&C Blue No. 1, FD&C Yellow No. 5, flavour, glycerin, methyl and propyl parabens, polysorbate 60, purified water, sodium cyclamate, and sorbitol solution.
How should I use this medication?
The usual dose of chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse is 15 mL of solution for 30 seconds, twice a day. Use after brushing your teeth. The solution should be swished through the mouth then spit out. Do not swallow. Use a syringe or medication measuring cup to measure the right amount of the rinse. Do not rinse your mouth, eat, or brush your teeth for 30 minutes after rinsing with chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to take this medication exactly as suggested by your doctor or pharmacist. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take chlorhexidine gluconate if you are allergic to chlorhexidine gluconate or any ingredients of the medication.
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- change in taste
- inflammation of salivary glands
- irritation of the gums and other areas in the mouth
- shedding of skin from mouth
- staining of teeth, dentures, fillings
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- signs of an allergic reaction, e.g.:
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of the face or throat
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Gingivitis and periodontitis: People who have both gingivitis and periodontitis need to know that clearing up the inflammation of the gums from gingivitis may not be an indicator that the periodontitis has also been cleared up. You should continue your periodontitis treatment as prescribed by your dentist.
Staining of teeth: Chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse can cause staining of the surface of teeth, fillings, and the tongue if used for a long time or in people who may have higher amounts of plaque. The staining does not affect the teeth and can be removed from most tooth surfaces by your dentist. People who have exposed root surfaces or fillings in the front teeth with rough surfaces may have permanent staining as it is more difficult to remove stains from these areas.
Taste changes: Some people using chlorhexidine gluconate may find a change in taste. In rare cases this may become permanent.
Pregnancy: It is not known if chlorhexidine gluconate passes from mother to fetus during pregnancy. This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if chlorhexidine gluconate passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.