How To Remove Chlorhexidine Stains From Teeth

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

The most effective way to remove chlorhexidine stains from teeth is by getting a professional dental cleaning. The next best alternative would be using a whitening toothpaste that contains hydrogen peroxide. But most importantly, you must stay on top of your oral hygiene while using this prescription rinse.

Chlorhexidine - bathroom sink

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.

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, 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. To make the toothpaste more effective you should specifically get one that contains hydrogen peroxide.

Peroxide based toothpastes can whiten your teeth by mechanically abrading extrinsic stains as well as chemically bleach away intrinsic stains. Non-peroxide based toothpastes only possess the ability to white your teeth by mechanically removing extrinsic stains.

Whitening toothpastes with hydrogen peroxide (HP):

How you should use it to get the stains off:

  1. Brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
  2. Although it would be much more effective if you brushed with it after every meal.

Essentially, good oral hygiene can go a long way in minimizing the stains.

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.

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 observed damage from toothpicks:

  • 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’s bottle.

Chlorhexidine label - adverse reactions
Adverse reactions label

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.

It is literally listed as one of the side effects so you can’t really deny nor argue with that.

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
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 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.


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 opposite.


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