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J Clin Periodontol. 2004 Aug;31(8):609-14.

The effect of a chlorhexidine regimen on de novo plaque formation.

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The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Faculty of Odontology, Department of Periodontology, Göteborg, Sweden.



To evaluate the effect of a pretreatment regimen that combined meticulous mechanical tooth cleaning with the daily use of chlorhexidine (rinse, gargle and tongue application) on de novo plaque formation and on the recolonization of various microbiological species in plaque and saliva during a 4-day period of no oral hygiene.


Ten subjects aged 24-36 years with gingivitis were recruited. The study was designed as a double blind cross-over clinical trial including two phases. Each experimental phase comprised one preparatory period of 7 days and one plaque accumulation period of 4 days. During the preparatory period, the volunteers (i) performed meticulous mechanical tooth cleaning using toothbrush and dentifrice and (ii) were, in addition, given two sessions of professional tooth cleaning (PTC) The final PTC was delivered after bacterial sampling had been made on Day 0. In the Control group, no additional plaque control measures were included. In the Test group, the participants in addition to the mechanical measures (i) rinsed twice daily, for 60 s each time with a 0.2% chlorhexidine solution, (ii) gargled twice daily for 10 s with the chlorhexidine preparation, and finally (iii) brushed the dorsum of the tongue for 60 s, twice daily, with a 1.0% chlorhexidine gel. During the 4-day plaque accumulation period, the participants abstained from all mechanical and chemical plaque control measures. On Days 0, 1, 2 and 4 the quantity and quality of plaque formed was assessed by clinical means and by DNA probe techniques. The microbiota of the saliva was studied in samples obtained on Days 0 and 4.


It was demonstrated that chlorhexidine used as a mouthrinse combined with gargling and tongue application during the preparatory period significantly retarded the amount of plaque that formed on tooth surfaces during the following 4 days of no oral hygiene. Further, the number of microorganisms present in the biofilm representing Days 0, 1 and 2 of the "plaque accumulation period" was apparently affected by the use of the antiseptic. Among the microorganisms influenced by the chlorhexidine regimen, a substantial number belonged to the genus Actinomyces. It was also observed that the adjunctive use of chlorhexidine reduced the number of bacteria present in saliva at the end of the preparatory period (i.e. on Day 0). After 4 days of no oral hygiene, the microbiota of the newly formed plaque in the Test and Control groups had many features in common.


Habitat is critical in controlling the bacterial composition of the dental biofilm. The microbiota will tend to go back to the one that is characteristic of a given subject, once chemical antimicrobial means are withdrawn.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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