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Caries Res 2010;44:333–340

The Caries-Preventive Effect of Chlorhexidine Varnish in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review

James P. · Parnell C. · Whelton H.
Oral Health Services Research Centre, Cork University Dental School and Hospital, Cork, Ireland
email Corresponding Author

 goto top of outline Key Words

  • Antimicrobials
  • Caries
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Review

 goto top of outline Abstract

Aims: Our purpose was to systematically review the literature on the effectiveness of chlorhexidine varnish for preventing dental caries in children and adolescents and to determine its effectiveness compared to fluoride varnish. Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library were searched through December 2009 to identify relevant randomised trials with blind outcome assessment and a minimum duration of 1 year. The search was later updated in MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library to March 19th, 2010. Risk of bias of the included trials was assessed. The primary outcome was the caries increment. Results: Twelve trials met the inclusion criteria for the review. There was considerable variation between trials in the concentration and frequency of application of the chlorhexidine varnish, in baseline caries levels and in background exposure to fluoride. Six parallel-group trials reported no statistically significant difference in caries increment in permanent teeth with the application of chlorhexidine varnish compared to placebo or no treatment. The results of 4 split-mouth trials were conflicting: 2 trials found no significant difference in caries increment and 2 reported statistically significant results in favour of chlorhexidine varnish. One trial of the effect of chlorhexidine varnish in primary teeth demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in caries increment. The results of 1 trial comparing chlorhexidine varnish with fluoride varnish for preventing caries in adolescents were equivocal. Conclusion: Evidence regarding the effectiveness of chlorhexidine varnish for preventing caries is inconclusive. Further well-conducted randomised trials are required before chlorhexidine varnish can be recommended for caries prevention.

Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel

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 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Patrice James
Oral Health Services Research Centre
Cork University Dental School and Hospital Wilton, Cork (Ireland)
Tel. +353 21 490 1210, Fax +353 21 454 5391, E-Mail

 goto top of outline Article Information

Received: March 22, 2010
Accepted after revision: May 20, 2010
Published online: July 7, 2010
Number of Print Pages : 8
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 2, Number of References : 47

 goto top of outline Publication Details

Caries Research

Vol. 44, No. 4, Year 2010 (Cover Date: September 2010)

Journal Editor: Beighton D. (London)
ISSN: 0008-6568 (Print), eISSN: 1421-976X (Online)

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