Preoperative Dental Rinsing: What You Need to Know

January 13, 2021 Lee Ann Brady DMD

I think pre-operative rinsing is here to stay. Science supports it is effective against viruses, including COVID19. And it is easy to do.

Pre-operative rinsing has been discussed in dentistry for a long time, especially before hygiene visits. Today this is an even more relevant conversation, and we are examining its efficacy again with renewed interest. Here are three to consider:

Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash

We know hydrogen peroxide works. It is highly effective against the virus and is recommended as a pre-operative rinse right now. A readymade hydrogen peroxide mouthwash is Peroxyl. You can also take 1% hydrogen peroxide and mix it 50/50 with a flavored mouthwash. The required time for effectiveness is a minimum of 30 seconds. Some publications are recommending the patient rinse with hydrogen peroxide for two 30-second cycles. If 30 seconds is too long for a patient, they can increase the number of times they swish for fewer seconds. You can set a timer to guide the patient and make sure the patient is swishing at least 30 seconds in total.

Iodine Based Mouthwash

The literature indicates iodine based rinsing solutions are also highly effective against the virus. There are iodine based mouthwashes you can purchase for use in your practice. As some people are allergic to iodine, you will need to carefully screen patients before use, asking if they have a known or suspect allergy. Can they have betadine on their skin? Can they eat shellfish? If iodine should be avoided, then you will want to use hydrogen peroxide.

Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

The process of rinsing with chlorhexidine before an appointment and/or adding chlorhexidine so it comes through the water spray of a Cavitron or Ultrasonic Scaler is not new news. For a long time, we have been using chlorhexidine mouthwash as an adjunct to oral hygiene following periodontal treatment. There is science that chlorhexidine kills microbial cells withing 30 seconds of contact in the sulcus biofilm, but is it effective as an antimicrobial pre-operative rinse to reduce the risk of COVID19 exposure? We do not know. We cannot point to the science that would tell us it is equally effective against the virus as other options. However, I have heard studies are underway with good clinical results so far.

Related Course

E1: Aesthetic & Functional Treatment Planning

DATE: October 16 2025 @ 8:00 am - October 19 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute


Dentist Tuition: $ 6800

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (Per Night): $ 345

Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

Learn More>

About Author

User Image
Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.