Weak evidence for the effectiveness of chlorhexidine varnish on root caries

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While root caries can be seen in young people its frequency increases with age. The growing older populations in many developing countries means that root caries is likely to be an increasing problem.  The aim of this review was to see if chlorhexidine varnish (CHX-V)  is effective for treating root caries.

The authors searched Medline, the Cochrane-CENTRAL and EMBASE databases  as well the  reference lists of included studies .  Randomised controlled clinical trials (RCTs) or controlled clinical trials (CCTs) in English with root caries incidence and root caries activity as outcome measures were selected

Of the 32 papers identified 6 met the inclusion criteria. The data identified provided no conclusive evidence that the application of CHX-V is effective in patients when regular professional oral prophylaxis is performed. The data suggested that 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.

They concluded

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’.

Slot DE, Vaandrager NC, Van Loveren C, Van Palenstein Helderman WH, Van der Weijden GA. The effect of chlorhexidine varnish on root caries: a systematic review. Caries Res. 2011;45(2):162-73. Epub 2011 Apr 27. Review. PubMed PMID: 21525751.

See Also

EBD Journal Commentary

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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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