Low-cost Periodontal Therapy

Periodontol 2000. 2012 Oct;60(1):110-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0757.2011.00429.x.


Periodontitis is a complex infectious disease that affects low-income individuals disproportionately. Periodontitis is associated with specific bacterial species and herpesviruses, and successful prevention and treatment of the disease is contingent upon effective control of these pathogens. This article presents an efficacious, highly safe, minimally invasive, practical and low-cost periodontal therapy that involves professional and patient-administered mechanical therapy and antimicrobial agents. The major components are scaling for calculus removal, periodontal pocket irrigation with potent antiseptics, and treatment with systemic antibiotics for advanced disease. Povidone-iodine and sodium hypochlorite have all the characteristics for becoming the first-choice antiseptics in the management of periodontal diseases. Both agents show excellent antibacterial and antiviral properties, are readily available throughout the world, have been safely used in periodontal therapy for decades, offer significant benefits for individuals with very limited financial resources, and are well accepted by most dental professionals and patients. Four per cent chlorhexidine applied with a toothbrush to the most posterior part to the tongue dorsum can markedly reduce or eliminate halitosis in most individuals. Systemic antibiotics are used to treat periodontopathic bacteria that are not readily reached by topical therapy, such as pathogens within gingival tissue, within furcation defects, at the base of periodontal pockets, and on the tongue, tonsils and buccal mucosae. Valuable antibiotic therapies are amoxicillin-metronidazole (250 mg of amoxicillin and 250 mg of metronidazole, three times daily for 8 days) for young and middle-aged patients, and ciprofloxacin-metronidazole (500 mg of each, twice daily for 8 days) for elderly patients and for patients in developing countries who frequently harbor enteric rods subgingivally. Scaling to remove dental calculus and the prudent use of inexpensive antimicrobial agents can significantly retard or arrest progressive periodontitis in the great majority of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use
  • Dental Scaling / economics
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Oral Hygiene / economics
  • Periodontal Debridement / economics
  • Periodontal Debridement / instrumentation
  • Periodontitis / economics
  • Periodontitis / therapy*
  • Poverty
  • Self Care / economics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local