Efficacy of chlorhexidine rinses after periodontal or implant surgery: a systematic review

Clin Oral Investig. 2019 Jan;23(1):21-32. doi: 10.1007/s00784-018-2761-y. Epub 2018 Dec 7.


Background: Biofilm management and infection control are essential after periodontal and implant surgery. In this context, chlorhexidine (CHX) mouth-rinses are frequently recommended post-surgically. Despite its common use and many studies in this field, a systematic evaluation of the benefits after periodontal or implant surgery is-surprisingly-still missing.

Objectives: To evaluate the benefits of chlorhexidine rinsing after periodontal or implant surgery in terms of plaque and inflammation reduction potential. Furthermore, to screen whether the concentration changes or additives in CHX solutions reduce side effects associated with its use.

Materials and methods: A systematic literature search was performed for clinical trials, which compared CHX rinsing after periodontal or implant surgery with rinsing using placebo, non-staining formulations, or solutions with reduced concentrations of the active compound. Four databases (Medline, PubMed, Embase, Cochrane) were searched up to June 2018. Two reviewers independently identified and screened the literature.

Results: From 691 titles identified, only eleven publications met the inclusion criteria and were finally included. Mainly early publications assessed the benefits of CHX over placebo rinsing, whereas more recent publications focused more on the evaluation of new formulations with regard to effectiveness and side effects. The use of CHX after surgery showed in general significant reduction in plaque (means of 29-86% after 1 week) and bleeding (up to 73%) as compared to placebo. No consensus, however, was found regarding the most beneficial CHX formulation avoiding side effects.

Conclusion: Chlorhexidine rinsing helps to reduce biofilm formation and gingival inflammation after surgery. However, no additional reduction of periodontal probing depth over any given placebo or control solution could be found irrespective of whether CHX was used or not. The use of additives such as antidiscoloration systems (ADS) or herbal extracts may reduce side effects while retaining efficacy.

Clinical relevance: Within the limitations of this review, it can be concluded that CHX may represent a valuable chemo-preventive tool immediately after surgery, during the time period in which oral hygiene capacity is compromised. To reduce the side effects of CHX and maintain comparable clinical effects, rinsing with less concentrated formulations (e.g., 0.12%) showed the most promising results so far.

Keywords: Chlorhexidine; Dental implant; Mouthwashes; Periodontitis.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use*
  • Dental Implantation*
  • Gingivitis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Mouthwashes / therapeutic use*
  • Periodontal Diseases / surgery*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Mouthwashes
  • Chlorhexidine