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.

This content is only available via PDF.
Open Access License / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Open Access License: This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC) (, applicable to the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.