Perioperative use of 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate for the prevention of alveolar osteitis: Efficacy and risk factor analysis

Charles B. Hermesch, Thomas J. Hilton, Aaron R. Biesbrock, Robert A. Baker, Janet Cain-Hamlin, Stephen F. McClanahan, Robert W. Gerlach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Objectives. The purposes of this study were to evaluate the use of 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate as a prophylactic therapy for the prevention of alveolar osteitis and to further examine subject-based risk factors associated with alveolar osteitis. Study Design. The trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study conducted among 279 subjects, each of whom required oral surgery for the removal of a minimum of one impacted mandibular third molar. Subjects were instructed to rinse twice daily with 15 ml of chlorhexidine or placebo mouthrinse for 30 seconds for 1 week before and 1 week after the surgical extractions. This regimen included a supervised presurgical rinse. Alveolar osteitis diagnosis was based on the subjective finding of increasing postoperative pain at the surgical site that was not relieved with mild analgesics, supported by clinical evidence of one or more of the following: loss of blood clot, necrosis of blood clot, and exposed alveolar bone. Results. In comparison with use of the placebo mouthrinse, prophylactic use of the chlorhexidine mouthrinse resulted in statistically significant (p < 0.05) reductions in the incidence of alveolar osteitis. With chlorhexidine therapy, the subject- and extractionbased incidences of alveolar osteitis in the evaluable subset (271 subjects) were reduced, relative to placebo, by 38% and 44%, respectively. The corresponding odds ratios that describe the increased odds of experiencing alveolar osteitis in the placebo group were 1.87 and 2.05 for subject- and extraction-based analyses, respectively. In comparison with nonuse of oral contraceptives, the use of oral contraceptives in female subjects was related to a statistically significant increase in the incidence of alveolar osteitis (odds ratio = 1.92, p = 0.035). Relative to male subjects, the observed incidence of alveolar osteitis for female subjects not using oral contraceptives was not statistically significant (odds ratio = 1.18, p = 0.64). Smoking did not increase the incidence of alveolar osteitis relative to not smoking (odds ratio = 1.20, p = 0.33). Conclusions. These data confirm that the prophylactic use of 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate mouthrinse results in a significant reduction in the incidence of alveolar osteitis after the extraction of impacted mandibular third molars. In addition, oral contraceptive use in females was confirmed to be a risk factor for the development of alveolar osteitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-387
Number of pages7
JournalOral surgery, oral medicine, oral pathology, oral radiology, and endodontics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Dentistry(all)


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