Comparative effects of different chlorhexidine mouth-rinse formulations on volatile sulphur compounds and salivary bacterial counts

J Clin Periodontol. 2004 Dec;31(12):1128-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2004.00621.x.


Aim: To compare five different commercial mouth rinses with chlorhexidine (CHX) with respect to their anti-halitosis effect and anti-microbial activity on salivary bacterial counts, following a standardised research protocol. And secondly, to validate the study model proposed in the evaluation of patients suffering from halitosis.

Patients and methods: Ten volunteers, with a healthy oral status, were enrolled in a double-blind, cross-over design, using sterile saline as negative control and five CHX-containing mouth rinses: 0.12% CHX alone (CHX+NO), plus alcohol (CHX+ALC), plus 0.05% cetylpiridinium chloride (CHX+CPC), plus sodium fluoride (CHX+NaF), and 0.05% CHX plus 0.05% CPC, plus 0.14% zinc lactate (CHX+Zn). The levels of whole-mouth volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs) were measured by means of a sulphide monitor at baseline, 1 and 5 h after rinsing with the assigned product. Baseline measurements also included an organoleptic assessment and the recording of the tongue-coating index. Aerobic and anaerobic salivary bacterial counts were also obtained by collecting unstimulated saliva samples at the same evaluation times, and processed by culturing techniques. Analysis of variance was used to evaluate whether significant differences existed among groups, at each evaluation point, or in changes between evaluations.

Results: No significant differences were detected at baseline, with VSC levels ranging between 190 and 227 parts per billion (p.p.b.) After rinsing, VSC levels were reduced with all products (except saline), after 1 h. Significant differences at 1 h were detected (p=0.04), corresponding to a lower amount of p.p.b. (109) in (CHX+Zn) as compared with the other groups (except CHX+NO). At 5 h, VSC levels were lower for CHX+CPC and CHX+Zn (155 and 169, respectively), while the other groups showed levels higher than 220 p.p.b. With respect to aerobic salivary bacterial counts, CHX+CPC demonstrated the lowest percentage of survival (6% after 1 h and 18% after 5 h). For anaerobic bacterial counts, again CHX+CPC demonstrated the lowest percentage of survival (10% at 1 h and 23% at 5 h), together with CHX+ALC (18% of survival at 5 h). However, salivary counts and VSCs were only significantly correlated at baseline, but not after treatment.

Conclusion: Important differences can be expected from different CHX formulations, in relation to both their anti-halitosis effect and anti-microbial activity in saliva. Formulations that combine CHX and CPC achieved the best results, and a formulation combining CHX with NaF resulted in the poorest.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / drug effects
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / drug effects
  • Breath Tests
  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Halitosis / drug therapy*
  • Halitosis / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Mouthwashes / chemistry
  • Mouthwashes / therapeutic use*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / microbiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Mouthwashes
  • Chlorhexidine