Objectives: The present study describes the natural history of Porphyromonas gingivalis, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and Prevotella intermedia over a 5-year period and the effect of a triclosan/copolymer dentifrice on these organisms in a normal adult population.
Material and methods: Subgingival plaque samples were collected from 504 adult volunteers. Probing pocket depths (PPD) and relative attachment levels were measured using an automated probe. Participants were matched for disease status (CPI), plaque index, age and gender, and allocated to receive either a triclosan/copolymer or placebo dentifrice. Re-examination and subgingival plaque sampling was repeated after 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 years. P. gingivalis, A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. intermedia were detected and quantitated using an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. Logistic regression and generalised linear modelling were used to analyse the data.
Results: This 5-year longitudinal study showed considerable volatility in acquisition and loss (below the level of detection) of all three organisms in this population. Relatively few subjects had these organisms on multiple occasions. While P. gingivalis was related to loss of attachment and to PPD >/=3.5 mm, there was no relationship between A. actinomycetemcomitans or P. intermedia and disease progression over the 5 years of the study. Smokers with P. gingivalis had more PPD >/=3.5 mm than smokers without this organism. There was no significant effect of the triclosan dentifrice on P. gingivalis or A. actinomycetemcomitans. Subjects using triclosan were more likely to have P. intermedia than those not using the dentifrice; however this did not translate into these subjects having higher levels of P. intermedia and its presence was uniform showing no signs of increasing over the course of the study.
Conclusion: The present 5-year longitudinal study has shown the transient nature of colonisation with P. gingivalis, A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. intermedia in a normal adult population. The use of a triclosan-containing dentifrice did not lead to an overgrowth of these organisms. The clinical effect of the dentifrice would appear to be independent of its antimicrobial properties.