Added to Handbook: Prior to June 2004
Updated: September 2013


To provide guidelines on the use of chlorhexidine by dental hygienists.


Chlorhexidine has been shown to be an effective anti-plaque and anti‑gingivitis chemotherapeutic agent. Topical oral preparations of chlorhexidine and chlorhexidine salts are listed on the federal Food and Drugs Act Prescription Drug List. The federal Act is enacted through provincial legislation. The BC legislation is the Drug Schedules Regulation to the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act of British Columbia, which lists chlorhexidine as a "Schedule I - Prescription" drug.

Schedule I drugs require a prescription for sale and are provided to the public by a pharmacist following the diagnosis and professional intervention of a "practitioner". Specific practitioners who may prescribe a Schedule I drug for sale are defined by provincial legislation. This includes dentists and physicians.

Chlorhexidine is routinely used in-office by dental hygienists for irrigation, topical application and rinsing, and may be given to the client for home use as a mouth rinse or for site specific irrigation. Chlorhexidine may also be purchased by clients for home use.


A written prescription by a dentist or physician is required for the sale of chlorhexidine to a client by a pharmacy. A prescription note must be recorded in the client's record.

In-office use of chlorhexidine by dental hygienists must be documented in the client's chart, as must any chlorhexidine preparations given to a client for home use.