Background: There are both anecdotal clinical and laboratory experimental data suggesting that low pH mouthrinses cause dental erosion. This evidence is particularly relevant to acidified sodium chlorite (ASC) formulations since they have plaque inhibitory properties comparable to chlorhexidine but without the well known local side effects.
Aim: Studies in situ and in vitro were planned to measure enamel erosion by low pH mouthrinses. The study in situ measured enamel erosion by ASC, essential oil and hexetidine mouthrinses over 15-day study periods. The study was a 5 treatment, single blind cross over design involving 15 healthy subjects using orange juice, as a drink, and water, as a rinse, as positive and negative controls respectively. 2 enamel specimens from unerupted human third molar teeth were placed in the palatal area of upper removable acrylic appliances which were worn from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday for 3 weeks. Rinses were used 2x daily and 250 ml volumes of orange juice were imbibed 4x daily. Enamel loss was determined by profilometry on days 5, 10 and 15. The study in vitro involved immersing specimens in the 4 test solutions together with a reduced acid ASC formulation for a period of 4 h under constant stirring; Enamel loss was measured by profilometry every hour.
Results: Enamel loss was in situ progressive over time with the 3 rinses and orange juice but negligible with water. ASC produced similar erosion to orange juice and significantly more than the two proprietary rinses and water. The essential oil and hexetidine rinses produced similar erosion and significantly more than water. Enamel loss in vitro was progressive over time, and the order from low to high erosion was reduced acid ASC, ASC, Essential oil, and hexetidine mouthrinses and orange juice.
Conclusion: Based on the study in situ, it is recommended that low pH mouthrinses should not be considered for long term or continuous use and never as pre-brushing rinses. In view of the plaque inhibitory efficacy of ASC, short- to medium-term applications similar to those of chlorhexidine would be envisaged.