Full-mouth therapy versus individual quadrant root planning: a critical commentary

J Periodontol. 2002 Jul;73(7):797-812. doi: 10.1902/jop.2002.73.7.797.


Background: This commentary compares the abilities of full-mouth disinfection (FDIS), full-mouth root planing (FRP), and partial-mouth disinfection (PDIS) to improve periodontal health. FDIS consists of 4 quadrants of root planing completed within 24 hours with adjunctive chlorhexidine therapies (e.g., rinsing, subgingival irrigation, tongue brushing). FRP denotes 4 quadrants of root planing performed within 24 hours, and PDIS refers to root planing individual quadrants of the dentition, spaced 2 weeks apart. A basic premise of administering full-mouth therapy (FDIS or FRP) is to eliminate or reduce bacterial reservoirs within the oral cavity that could inhibit optimal healing of treated sites or cause periodontal disease initiation or progression.

Methods: Controlled clinical trials that compared the abilities of PDIS and full-mouth root planing with and without adjunctive chlorhexidine chemotherapy to alter periodontal status were reviewed.

Results: Several studies conducted at one treatment center indicated that FDIS and FRP attained greater therapeutic improvements than PDIS with respect to decreasing probing depths (PD), gaining clinical attachment (CAL), diminishing bleeding upon probing, and reducing the subgingival microflora. However, the magnitude of PD reductions and gains of clinical attachment must be carefully interpreted, because initial PD measurements were usually determined after scaling and root planing, which may have caused the results to be overstated. Furthermore, in studies that addressed the utility of FDIS, it was not possible to determine if benefits induced beyond PDIS were due to FRP or administration of multifaceted intraoral chlorhexidine treatments ora combination of both therapies. One investigation that had protocol limitations indicated that similar results were attained by FRP with and without adjunctive chemotherapy. In contrast, recent studies from 2 other treatment centers indicated that there were no significant differences when the efficacy of quadrant-by-quadrant root planing was compared to FRP or FDIS with regard to PD reduction, gains of clinical attachment, and impact on the magnitude and quality of the immune response. POSSIBLE CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Conceptually, full-mouth therapy (FRP or FDIS) could reduce the number of patient visits and facilitate more efficient use of treatment time. In addition, there appears to be no major adverse reactions to full-mouth root planing with or without adjunctive chemotherapy. However, small study populations and non-corroborating data from different treatment centers indicate that additional randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if full-mouth therapy provides clinically relevant improvements beyond PDIS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / drug effects
  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use*
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Mouthwashes / therapeutic use*
  • Periodontal Diseases / microbiology
  • Periodontal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Periodontal Index
  • Root Planing / methods*


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Mouthwashes
  • Chlorhexidine