Reduction of saltiness and bitterness after a chlorhexidine rinse

Paul A.S. Breslin, Christopher D. Tharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Chronic rinsing with chlorhexidine, an oral-antiseptic, has been shown to decrease the saltiness of NaCl and the bitterness of quinine. The effect of acute chlorhexidine on taste has not been investigated. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of acute chlorhexidine rinses on taste intensity and quality of 11 stimuli representing sweet, salt, sour, bitter and savory. All stimuli were first matched for overall intensity so the effects of chlorhexidine would be directly comparable across compounds. As a control treatment, the bitter taste of chlorhexidine digluconate (0.12%) was matched in intensity to quinine HCl, which was found to cross-adapt the bitterness of chlorhexidine. Subjects participated in four experimental conditions: a pre-test, a quinine treatment, a chlorhexidine treatment, and a post-test condition, while rating total taste intensity and taste qualities in separate test sessions. Relative to the quinine treatment, chlorhexidine was found to decrease the salty taste of NaCl, KCl and NH4Cl, and not to significantly affect the tastes of sucrose, monosodium glutamate (MSG), citric acid, HCl and the taste of water. The bitter taste of urea, sucrose octa-acetate and quinine were suppressed after chlorhexidine rinses relative to water rinses, but were only marginally suppressed relative to quinine rinses. Potential mechanisms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-116
Number of pages12
JournalChemical senses
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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