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Patient prerinse: 30 seconds that provide a positive impact

July 13, 2021
If you aren't regularly asking patients to rinse before dental treatment, it's time to start. Here are five good reasons you should make that 30-second prerinse part of every appointment.

In an era when health and safety are top priority, dental professionals are finding ways to keep their patients, themselves, and their communities healthy and safe. From new clinical tools and technologies to new personal protective equipment, communication systems, and delivery models, our industry has learned ways of delivering high standards of care in the pandemic-shifted society. This is especially important when time is of the essence during the clinical day—clinicians must find effective and reliable products that are backed by research and safe enough to be used daily.

One popular tool currently being implemented in many practices is the patient prerinse. As we know, oral rinses can be used for many reasons ranging from oral malodor to xerostomia, and can also help with adverse reactions from cancer, autoimmune diseases, and other systemic conditions.1 It’s important to use a rinse that is safe enough to be used daily and is free from staining and adverse reactions.

One example of a safe and effective ingredient in oral rinses is activated chlorine dioxide. Evidence suggests chlorine dioxide has a strong antiviral effect and may help prevent the influenza virus.2 Research also suggests it is effective against other pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. Most recently, specific rinses have been shown to fight SARS-CoV-2.3 An in vitro study of OraCare Health Rinse, which uses activated chlorine dioxide, was completed to determine if it has the ability to limit the replication of SARS-CoV-2. The great news is that after 30 seconds of exposure to the virus, the rinse was shown to reduce the pathogens by 99.964%.4 The significance of this is important for dental hygienists.

Though many oral rinses can be used by patients at home, one of the best methods of use is as a prerinse in the dental operatory. Here are five reasons why dental hygienists should use a prerinse for every dental patient appointment: 

1. Prerinsing prior to dental treatment has been shown to be an effective way to significantly reduce dental plaque and oral microbial count, potentially reducing the risk of pathogenic microbes being released into the operatory as aerosol droplets.5

2. Prerinsing is quick, easy, and a familiar procedure for patients.

3. Prerinsing at every dental appointment encourages patients to also use an oral rinse at home.

4. Prerinsing is a noninvasive therapeutic procedure and is safe and effective, with minimal adverse effects.

5. Prerinsing can address a broad range of oral conditions such as oral malodor, xerostomia, and more.

The best thing about oral rinses is that they can be implemented into the oral care routine by dental patients at home and dental hygienists in the practice. In a pandemic-shifted era where health and safety are top priority for our patients, ourselves, and our communities, it’s never been more important to take 30 seconds during the dental appointment to have your patients rinse prior to providing care.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the July 2021 print edition of RDH.


1. OraCare products. OraCare. https://www.oracareproducts.com

2. Miura T, Shibata T. Antiviral effect of chlorine dioxide against influenza virus and its application for infection control. ResearchGate. September 2010. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228888145_Antiviral_Effect_of_Chlorine_Dioxide_against_Influenza_Virus_and_Its_Application_for_Infection_Control

3. Banas JA. University of Iowa bacteria study. OraCare products. January 2012.  https://www.oracareproducts.com/uploads/4/3/7/3/43731917/university_of_iowa_bacteria_study_5.pdf

4. Downs R. Rinse against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. The Dental Know. December 9, 2020. http://www.thedentalknow.com/uploads/4/3/7/3/43731917/covid_19_study.pdf

5. Aravinth V, Narayanan MBA, Kumar SGR, Selvamary AL, Sujatha A. Comparative evaluation of salt water rinse with chlorhexidine against oral microbes: A school-based randomized controlled trial. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent. 2017;35(4):319-326. doi: 10.4103/JISPPD.JISPPD_299_16

MELISSA TURNER, BASDH, RDHEP, EFDA, an award-winning thought leader, influencer, and dental advisor, is co-creator of Oral Health United. She is chief hygiene officer for Cellerant Consulting and is a nationally published author and speaker. Cofounder of the National Mobile & Teledentistry Conference and the American Mobile & Teledentistry Alliance, Turner is the creator of the I Heart Dentistry Network, podcast host, and is affectionately known on Instagram as @thetoothgirl. She can be reached at www.melissakturner.com.