Chlorhexidine mouthwash is prescribed by dentists when a patient is suffering from gum disease, having trouble maintaining their oral health, or will be undergoing certain dental procedures. Short for chlorhexidine gluconate, it prevents unhealthy bacteria from forming by binding tooth surfaces and soft tissue.
Unfortunately, chlorhexidine is also known for causing stains on teeth, the tongue, and mouth tissue. These stains aren’t permanent, but they can be the source of self-consciousness for those using the mouthwash.
To help prevent chlorhexidine stains, you can:
- Brush more often to remove chlorhexidine stains
- Invest in an electric toothbrush
- Follow the directions for chlorhexidine mouthwash
- Quit smoking
- Avoid food and drink that stains your teeth
Improving your oral health at the expense of the way your teeth look can be frustrating. By following these five steps, you’ll experience fewer stains and maintain a more confident smile while using chlorhexidine.
1. Brush More Often to Remove Chlorhexidine Stains
Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day is crucial to good oral hygiene. Combine brushing with flossing once per day and regular visits to your dentist to get the most out of your oral health routine.
But the basics of oral health aren’t always enough to keep your teeth pearly white. That’s especially true if your dentist has prescribed chlorhexidine mouthwash which is known to cause stains on your teeth and tongue.
In cases like these, one of the best things you can do is simply brush an extra third time per day. Make sure to focus on the stained areas when you do. This is because chlorhexidine mouthwash also increases tartar buildup which can trap stains on your teeth and lead to even more stains.
2. Invest in an Electric Toothbrush
Another great way to fight chlorhexidine mouthwash side effects is to buy a better toothbrush. In this case, switching to an electric toothbrush may help do the trick. While the debate between manual and electric is far from over, electric toothbrushes do have their benefits.
For one thing, many electric toothbrushes come with timers that ensure you brush for the full two minutes. This is especially important since you want to brush for the right amount of time while focusing on the stained areas.
Secondly, many electric toothbrushes have vibrating or spinning heads. They are especially helpful since they can remove even more plaque between teeth and at the gumline than a manual toothbrush.
Electric toothbrushes can take some getting used to if you haven’t used one before. Be sure to talk to your dentist or hygienist about how to use yours correctly. If you’re not sure where to start with electric toothbrushes, our team highly recommends vibrating manual toothbrushes for beginners. Try sonic or ultrasonic toothbrushes if you’re already familiar with electric brushes.
3. Follow the Directions for Chlorhexidine Mouthwash
Chlorhexidine mouthwash is a prescription medication and should be treated like any other drug. This means following both your dentist’s instructions as well as those on the label to the letter. It’s not meant to be used over long periods of time, nor is it a permanent replacement for your regular mouthwash.
Most dentists will only require you to use chlorhexidine mouthwash for one or two weeks. This is enough time for the medication to deep clean your gums, teeth, and soft tissue without any permanent side effects. This also means that any stains on your teeth or tongue from chlorhexidine won’t be permanent and should disappear with regular brushing and flossing.
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking has terrible effects on both your oral and overall health. It affects your gums by causing less oxygen to reach your bloodstream which prevents infected gums from healing on their own. Not only that, but it can actually cause gum disease to progress faster for smokers than for those who don’t smoke.
Tobacco also stains your teeth and turns them yellow or brown. While everyone’s teeth can become less white over time, smoking and tobacco use in general speeds up the process significantly. This is especially bad news when using chlorhexidine since it can trap stains underneath tartar buildup and lead to even more stains.
Smoking does more damage than stains on your teeth, including:
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Loss of smell and taste
- Tooth loss
- Higher risk of oral cancer
- Slow healing after oral surgery and extractions
And this is only the effects smoking and tobacco has on your oral health. Those wanting to prevent increased stains on your teeth and tongue while using chlorhexidine, as well as protect your overall health, should quit smoking immediately or never start.
5. Avoid Food and Drink That Stain Your Teeth
Food and drink such as berries and coffee are known for causing teeth stains. While this can be an easy fix in most situations, using chlorhexidine mouthwash can make it much worse. Stains from food and drink are inevitable, as are stains from using the mouthwash. However, you can help alleviate stains by avoiding certain food and drink while using it.
To avoid increased food and drink stains while using chlorhexidine, avoid:
- Acidic fruits such as lemons and oranges
- Sugary snacks
On the other hand, there are certain foods and drinks that can actually help give you a whiter smile. Opt for high-fiber fruits to please your sweet tooth. Apples and pears actually boost saliva production as well as help scrub away stains while you’re eating them! Strawberries are another great option thanks to their malic acid content.
You should also be drinking plenty of water. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it helps wash away any leftover acids and sugars leftover from your meal. This can be especially helpful if you don’t have your toothbrush handy. Always opt for fluoridated water if you can for its teeth-strengthening benefits.