A systematic review on the effect of systemic antimicrobials as an adjunct to scaling and root planing in periodontitis patients

J Clin Periodontol. 2002;29 Suppl 3:136-59; discussion 160-2. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-051x.29.s3.8.x.


Background: Scaling and root planing (SRP) are the bases of non-surgical therapy in the treatment of periodontitis. However, results from this therapy are often unpredictable and dependable from many different factors.

Objectives: The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effectiveness of the adjunctive use of systemic antimicrobials with scaling and root planing (SRP) vs. SRP alone in the treatment of chronic (CP) or aggressive periodontitis (AgP).

Search strategy: Use of computerized databases, namely MEDLINE, the Cochrane Oral Health Group Specialty Trials Register and EMBASE; reference lists from relevant articles were hand-searched; and a hand-search of selected journals until April 2001.

Selection criteria: Studies were selected if they were designed as controlled clinical trials in which systemically healthy patients with either AgP or CP were treated with SRP plus systemic antimicrobials in comparison with SRP alone or with placebo, for a minimum of 6 months. Main outcome measures were clinical attachment level (CAL) change and probing pocket depth (PPD) change.

Data collection and analysis: Two reviewers extracted independently information regarding quality and study characteristics, in duplicate. Kappa scores determined their agreement. Main results were collected and grouped by drug, disease and PPD category. For the quantitative data synthesis, the data was pooled (when mean differences and standard errors were available), and either a Fixed Effects or Random Effects meta-analysis was used for the analysis.

Results: After an initial selection, 158 papers were identified by the manual and electronic searches; 25 papers were eligible for inclusion. Their quality assessment showed that randomization and allocation concealment methods were seldom reported and blindness was usually not defined clearly. In general, selected studies showed high variability and lack of relevant information for an adequate assessment. Overall, SRP plus systemic antimicrobial groups demonstrated better results in CAL and PPD change than SRP alone or with placebo groups. Only limited meta-analyses could be performed, due to the difficulties in pooling the studies and the lack of appropriate data. This analysis showed a statistically significant additional benefit for spiramycin (PPD change) and amoxicillin/metronidazole (CAL change) in deep pockets.

Conclusion: Systemic antimicrobials in conjunction with SRP, can offer an additional benefit over SRP alone in the treatment of periodontitis, in terms of CAL and PPD change, and reduced risk of additional CAL loss. However, differences in study methodology and lack of data precluded an adequate and complete pooling of data for a more comprehensive analyses. It was difficult to establish definitive conclusions, although patients with deep pockets, progressive or 'active' disease, or specific microbiological profile, can benefit more from this adjunctive therapy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Chronic Disease
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dental Scaling*
  • Humans
  • Periodontal Index
  • Periodontitis / drug therapy*
  • Periodontitis / therapy*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents