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Caries Res. 2011;45(2):162-73. doi: 10.1159/000327374. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

The effect of chlorhexidine varnish on root caries: a systematic review.

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Department of Periodontology, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The aim of this study was to systematically review the present literature on the effect of chlorhexidine varnish (CHX-V) on root caries.


The MEDLINE-PubMed, the Cochrane-CENTRAL and EMBASE databases were searched through December 2010 to identify any appropriate studies. Root caries incidence and root caries activity were selected as outcome variables.


An independent screening of the unique titles and abstracts of 24 MEDLINE-PubMed, 14 Cochrane-CENTRAL and 18 EMBASE papers resulted in 6 publications that met the eligibility criteria. Data extraction provided no conclusive evidence that the application of CHX-V is effective in patients when regular professional oral prophylaxis is performed. If effective, the 40% CHX-V was found to provide a benefit over a control or fluoride varnish. CHX-V at lower concentrations (1 and 10%) may provide protection against root caries in high-risk patients (such as geriatric and xerostomia patients) in the absence of regular professional oral prophylaxis.


Within the limitations of this review, it may be concluded that in the absence of regular professional tooth cleaning and oral hygiene instructions, CHX-V may provide a beneficial effect in patients in need of special care. The strength of this recommendation is graded as 'weak'.

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