Objective: This paper reports a meta-analysis of studies that have investigated the effect of scaling and root planing on periodontal probing depth and attachment loss.
Material and methods: The criteria used for inclusion of studies were as follows: root planing and scaling alone was one of the primary treatment arms; patients or quadrants of each patient were randomly assigned to study groups; 80% of patients enrolled were included in first year follow-up examinations; periodontal probing depth and attachment loss were reported in mm; the sample size of each study and substudy was reported. Sample size was used to weight the relative contribution of each study since standard errors were not reported by many studies and sample size is highly correlated with standard error and therefore statistically able to explain a substantial portion of the standard error on studies that use similar measures.
Results: The meta-analysis results show that periodontal probing depth and gain of attachment level do not improve significantly following root planing and scaling for patients with shallow initial periodontal probing depths. However, there was about a 1-mm reduction for medium initial periodontal probing depths and a 2-mm reduction for deep initial periodontal probing depths. Similarly, there was about a 0.50-mm gain in attachment for medium initial periodontal probing depth measurements and slightly more than a l-mm gain in attachment for deep initial periodontal probing depth measurements. Surgical therapy for patients with deep initial probing depths showed better results than scaling and root planing in reducing probing depths. When patients were followed up over 3 years or more, these differences were reduced to less than 0.4 mm. Antibiotic therapy showed similar results to scaling and root planing. However, a consistent improvement in periodontal probing depth and gain of attachment is demonstrated when local antibiotic therapy is combined with root planing and scaling.