Periodontal debridement: still the treatment of choice

J Evid Based Dent Pract. 2014 Jun;14 Suppl:33-41.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jebdp.2014.02.007. Epub 2014 Feb 15.


Periodontal debridement (PD) remains a gold standard for the treatment of inflammatory periodontitis.

Background/purpose: The evidence base regarding the causal relationship between oral biofilm and the host inflammatory response to the etiology of periodontal disease has substantially increased over the years. What has not changed significantly during that time is the conservative manner in which the disease can be treated with periodontal debridement (PD). Since dental hygienists, in particular, specialize in providing these procedures it is important to evaluate the evidence that supports periodontal debridement as a primary and fundamental treatment modality.

Method: An extensive narrative literature review that included systematic reviews, examined traditional PD, the use of adjuncts to enhance PD and newer PD procedures to determine what are the best practices for achieving optimal clinical outcomes.

Conclusion: Compared to surgical therapy, PD results in maintenance of attachment levels over time, but is not as effective in the initial reduction of probing depths in deep pockets. Sustained release local drug delivery agents have some modest adjunctive effects when used with PD, as do systemic antibiotics in aggressive periodontitis cases. Reported analyses of the long term effects of chemotherapeutic agents usually do not extend beyond a few months to a year. While laser therapy is still under investigation it remains as a potential PD therapy. New instruments being refined to better visualize the root surface either non-surgically or with mini papilla reflection flaps, hold promise for the future when they become more affordable and accessible. Despite the development of new technology, it still appears that periodontal debridement (PD) remains the gold standard for the treatment of inflammatory periodontitis.

Keywords: Periodontal debridement; non-surgical therapy; outcomes; periodontal therapy; root planing; scaling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Periodontal Attachment Loss / therapy
  • Periodontal Debridement / methods*
  • Periodontal Pocket / therapy
  • Periodontitis / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic