Nonsurgical periodontal therapy

Periodontol 2000. 2001:25:77-88. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0757.2001.22250106.x.


Regular home care by the patient in addition to professional removal of subgingival plaque is generally very effective in controlling most inflammatory periodontal diseases. When disease does recur, despite frequent recall, it can usually be attributed to lack of sufficient supragingival and subgingival plaque control or to other risk factors that influence host response, such as diabetes or smoking. Causative factors contributing to recurrent disease include deep inaccessible pockets, overhangs, poor crown margins and plaque-retentive calculus. In most cases, simply performing a thorough periodontal debridement under local anesthesia will stop disease progression and result in improvement in the clinical signs and symptoms of active disease. If however, clinical signs of disease activity persist following thorough mechanical therapy, such as increased pocket depths, loss of attachment and bleeding on probing, other pharmacotherapeutic therapies should be considered. Augmenting scaling and root planing or maintenance visits with adjunctive chemotherapeutic agents for controlling plaque and gingivitis could be as simple as placing the patient on an antimicrobial mouthrinse and/or toothpaste with agents such as fluorides, chlorhexidine or triclosan, to name a few. Since supragingival plaque reappears within hours or days after its removal, it is important that patients have access to effective alternative chemotherapeutic products that could help them achieve adequate supragingival plaque control. Recent studies, for example, have documented the positive effect of triclosan toothpaste on the long-term maintenance of both gingivitis and periodontitis patients. Daily irrigation with a powered irrigation device, with or without an antimicrobial agent, is also useful for decreasing the inflammation associated with gingivitis and periodontitis. Clinically significant changes in probing depths and attachment levels are not usually expected with irrigation alone. Recent reports, however, would indicate that, when daily irrigation with water was added to a regular oral hygiene home regimen, a significant reduction in probing depth, bleeding on probing and Gingival Index was observed. A significant reduction in cytokine levels (interleukin-1beta and prostaglandin E2, which are associated with destructive changes in inflamed tissues and bone resorption also occurs. If patient-applied antimicrobial therapy is insufficient in preventing, arresting, or reversing the disease progression, then professionally applied antimicrobial agents should be considered including sustained local drug delivery products. Other, more broadly based pharmacotherapeutic agents may be indicated for multiple failing sites. Such agents would include systemic antibiotics or host modulating drugs used in conjunction with periodontal debridement. More aggressive types of juvenile periodontitis or severe rapidly advancing adult periodontitis usually require a combination of surgical intervention in conjunction with systemic antibiotics and generally are not controlled with nonsurgical anti-infective therapy alone. It should be noted, however, that, to date, no home care products or devices currently available can completely control or eliminate the pathogenic plaques associated with periodontal diseases for extended periods of time. Daily home care and frequent recall are still paramount for long-term success. Nonsurgical therapy remains the cornerstone of periodontal treatment. Attention to detail, patient compliance and proper selection of adjunctive antimicrobial agents for sustained plaque control are important elements in achieving successful long-term results. Frequent re-evaluation and careful monitoring allows the practitioner the opportunity to intervene early in the disease state, to reverse or arrest the progression of periodontal disease with meticulous nonsurgical anti-infective therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use
  • Debridement
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Dental Plaque / prevention & control
  • Dental Scaling / instrumentation
  • Dental Scaling / methods
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Periodontal Diseases / drug therapy
  • Periodontal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Periodontal Diseases / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / instrumentation


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Delayed-Action Preparations