The rôle of chlorhexidine in the one-stage full-mouth disinfection treatment of patients with advanced adult periodontitis. Long-term clinical and microbiological observations

J Clin Periodontol. 2000 Aug;27(8):578-89. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-051x.2000.027008578.x.


Background/aims: Recent studies reported significant additional clinical and microbiological improvements when severe adult periodontitis was treated by means of a "one-stage full-mouth" disinfection instead of a standard treatment strategy with consecutive root planings quadrant per quadrant. The one stage full-mouth disinfection procedure involves scaling and root planing of all pockets within 24 h in combination with an extensive application of chlorhexidine to all intra-oral niches such as periodontal pockets, tongue dorsum, tonsils (chairside, and at home for 2 months). This study aims to examine the relative importance of the use of chlorhexidine in the one stage full-mouth disinfection protocol.

Methods: Therefore, 3 groups of 12 patients each with advanced periodontitis were followed, both from a clinical and microbiological point of view, over a period of 8 months. The patients from the control group were scaled and root planed, quadrant per quadrant. at two-week intervals. The 2 other groups underwent a one stage full-mouth scaling and root planing (all pockets within 24 h) with (Fdis) or without (FRp=full-mouth root planing) the adjunctive use of chlorhexidine. At baseline and after 1, 2, 4 and 8 months, the following clinical parameters were recorded: plaque and gingivitis indices, probing depth, bleeding on probing and clinical attachment level. Microbiological samples were taken from different intra-oral niches (tongue, mucosa, saliva and pooled samples from single- and multi-rooted teeth). The samples were cultured on selective and non-selective media in order to evaluate the number of CFU/ml for the key-periodontopathogens. At baseline, an anonymous questionnaire was given to the patients to record the perception of each treatment (post operative pain, fever, swelling etc.).

Results: All 3 treatment strategies resulted in significant improvements for all clinical parameters, but the Fdis and FRp patients reacted always significantly more favourably than the control group, with an additional probing depth reduction of +/- 1.5 mm and an additional gain in attachment of +/- 2 mm (for pockets > or = 7 mm). Also from a microbiological point of view both the FRp and Fdis patients showed additional improvements when compared to the control group, as well in the reduction of spirochetes and motile organisms as in the number of CFU/ml of the key-pathogens, especially when the subgingival plaque samples were considered. The differences between FRp and Fdis patients were negligible.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the benefits of a "one-stage full-mouth disinfection" in the treatment of patients suffering from severe adult periodontitis probably results from the full-mouth scaling and root planing within 24 h rather than the beneficial effect of chlorhexidine. The raise in body temperature the second day after the full-mouth scaling and root planing seems to indicate a Shwartzman reaction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / isolation & purification
  • Body Temperature
  • Chlorhexidine / administration & dosage*
  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology
  • Dental Plaque / therapy
  • Dental Plaque Index
  • Dental Scaling* / adverse effects
  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouthwashes / administration & dosage*
  • Mouthwashes / therapeutic use
  • Periodontal Index
  • Periodontitis / drug therapy
  • Periodontitis / therapy*


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Mouthwashes
  • Chlorhexidine