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Adv Dent Res. 1994 Jul;8(2):291-301.


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Department of Basic Dental Science, Dental School, Cardiff, Wales.


Mouthrinses have been used for centuries for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, but it is only in recent years that the rationale behind the use of the ingredients has been subject to scientific research and clinical trials. Although Listerine held its position for many years in the vanguard of the anti-plaque agents, the advent of mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine was a major breakthrough in the research for a chemical means to prevent disease. Since that time, and especially in the past ten years, the number of formulations that claim to have anti-plaque, anti-calculus, and anti-caries activity has increased, and much emphasis has been placed on such substances as an adjunct to, or indeed to replace, conventional toothbrushing techniques. This review covers the literature on mouthrinses over the past five years, concentrating more on the anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis, and anti-calculus formulations. In the first section, the methods of conducting clinical trials of mouthrinses are discussed, and a plea is made for a greater degree of standardization of methodology with agreed acceptable levels of clinical benefit. Trials of established mouthrinses are considered, and the advantages and disadvantages of several newer formulations discussed. From the review, it appears that chlorhexidine has no equal in its effects on reduction of plaque and gingivitis, but major drawbacks lie in the taste and stain-producing problems. The pre-brushing rinse, Plax, does not have unqualified success in all trials, though the more recent European formulation may have promise. Newer rinses which inhibit bacterial adhesion to tooth surfaces also appear promising, and it is suggested that more work on combinations of active ingredients is necessary.

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