top of page

How To Remove Chlorhexidine Stains From Teeth

The most effective way to remove chlorhexidine stains from teeth is by getting a professional dental cleaning. The next best alternative would be to use a whitening toothpaste with hydrogen peroxide.


With that being said, you can prevent the stains from forming if you stay on top of your oral hygiene while using this prescription rinse.


chlorhexidine
chlorhexidine

The teeth stains from this medicated mouth rinse is of extrinsic origins so mechanical abrasion is more than adequate to remove it. Chemical bleaching may be implemented but it isn't necessary for the removal of chlorhexidine staining.


We will explain our reasoning with scientific studies as well as provide pharmacological instructions from the manufacturer.


How to remove chlorhexidine stains

The best way to remove chlorhexidine stains from your teeth is to see your dentist or hygienist for a professional cleaning. We wish to emphasize that all it requires is a teeth cleaning and NOT teeth whitening to get these stains off.


teeth staining

That recommendation comes directly from the manufacturer of this prescription rinse. You can find it on the bottle's precautions label if you read it carefully.


Chlorhexidine label - precautions
Precautions label

Chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse can cause staining of oral surfaces, such as tooth surfaces, restorations, and the dorsum of the tongue. Not all patients will experience a visually significant increase in tooth staining.
Stain can be removed from most tooth surfaces by conventional professional prophylactic techniques. Additional time may be required to complete the prophylaxis.

In summary, this prescription rinse can stain teeth but not everyone will experience it. If it does stain your teeth, it can be removed with a dental prophylaxis (dental cleaning). It makes no mention of teeth whitening or bleaching to get these stains off. In other words, chemical whitening is unnecessary for its removal.


Alternative for chlorhexidine stain removal

If you're not due for your next cleaning or you're unable to get one, the next best alternative for removing chlorhexidine stains is to use whitening toothpaste. For maximum efficacy, use one that contains hydrogen peroxide.


Peroxide vs Non-peroxide whitening toothpaste:

  • Peroxide based toothpastes can whiten your teeth by mechanically abrading extrinsic stains as well as chemically bleach away intrinsic stains.

  • Non-peroxide based toothpastes can only whiten your teeth by mechanically removing extrinsic stains. It can't chemically bleach them.


Whitening toothpastes with hydrogen peroxide (HP):

  • Colgate optic white pro series toothpaste (5% HP)

  • Optic white renewal toothpaste (3% HP)

  • Optic white advanced whitening toothpaste (2%)


How to use whitening toothpaste to remove chlorhexidine stains:

  1. Brush for 2 mins twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.

  2. Spend extra time brushing the stained areas.

  3. Try to brush after every meal when possible.


Essentially, good oral hygiene can go a long way in minimizing/preventing the stains from occurring.


Teeth whitening to remove stains

You may have been wondering if it would be more effective to whiten your teeth instead of trying to brush it off or get a dental cleaning. Whitening your teeth with various bleaching products can work in getting the stains off but it isn't required as per the manufacturer.


stains on teeth along gum line

Adequate oral hygiene with traditional brushing with a toothbrush and toothpaste should suffice. You combine that with a dentist visit and you should be fine. However, if you want to use whitening products you may go ahead. Those are an additional cost which you should keep in mind.


Whitening products that would work:

  • Teeth whitening pens - colgate optic white, moon whitening pen, lumineux, smile direct club, etc.

  • Whitening strips - crest white strips, moon dissolving strips, hismile PAP+, etc.

  • Whitening trays with LED lights


Can I use a toothpick to remove the stains?

No, we do NOT recommend using a toothpick to remove the teeth stains from chlorhexidine. Yes, we are aware that there was a study about using a toothpick to get rid of the stains and it was effective.


However, that study was from 1992 so it is extremely outdated.


The primary reason against using a toothpick is due to potential teeth damage. There have been reports of teeth sustaining toothpick damage from aggressive use!


Types of potential tooth damage from toothpick use:

  • Enamel chipping

  • Dentin damage

  • Fractures


Why do you think dentists always recommend using floss which is essentially a piece of string to remove stuck food instead of toothpicks? A soft string is much safer and gentler on your enamel and gums.


Does chlorhexidine really cause staining?

Yes, chlorhexidine gluconate rinse can cause brown stains on your teeth because research has proven and demonstrated it. In other words, you will begin to notice a brown discoloration with your teeth if you use chlorhexidine frequently or for a long period of time.


Evidence from scientific studies:

  • According to a systematic review, there was a significant increase in staining but a decrease in plaque and gingivitis.

  • One study compared 3 different concentrations of chlorhexidine (0.20%, 0.12%, 0.10%) and found that the concentration was directly correlated with the amount of staining.


Even the manufacturers list teeth staining as one of the adverse effects on the label of the rinse bottle.


Chlorhexidine label - adverse reactions

It specifically says that one of the most common side effects associated with this medicated rinse is an increase in staining of the teeth and other oral surfaces. Therefore it is undeniable that it can result in more stains.


How to prevent the staining

According to the label on what to expect while using this rinse, it says that you can minimize the discoloration by brushing and flossing. You should place an emphasis on cleaning the areas of your teeth that begin to discolor.


Chlorhexidine label - what to expect

Taking into consideration of what the label says, we'll give you our suggestion on how to prevent these stains from forming.


How to prevent CHX staining:

  • Brush and floss after every meal.

  • Using a toothpaste with peroxide is more effective than one without it.

  • Whitening products are helpful but not necessary.


If you're able to prevent these extrinsic stains from forming, you wouldn't need to even remove them.


Takeaway

While chlorhexidine gluconate rinse can stain your teeth, the good news is that they can be removed by your dentist with a cleaning. However, basic at home oral hygiene such as brushing with peroxide based whitening toothpaste and flossing should be sufficient in warding off the stain formation.


We hope that by now you should understand that this prescription rinse does not whiten your teeth because it does the exact opposite.

107 views
David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

bottom of page