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Chlorhexidine remains the gold standard to which other antiplaque and gingivitis agents are compared. Its effectiveness can be attributed to it bactericidal and bacteriostatic effects and its substantivity within the oral cavity. While other agents may possess one or more of these properties, few possess all three and perform so well. The antimicrobial properties of chlorhexidine are attributed to it di-cationic structure, and it is this same property that is the basis of its most common side effect, extrinsic tooth staining. By understanding the biochemical properties of chlorhexidine, an appreciation for the efficacy and use of chlorhexidine can be developed. It is only in such a way that the efficacy can be maximized and the side effects minimized, allowing chlorhexidine to remain the gold standard.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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