Supportive periodontal therapy (SPT) for maintaining the dentition in adults treated for periodontitis

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Jan 1;1(1):CD009376. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009376.pub2.


Background: Periodontitis is a bacterially-induced, chronic inflammatory disease that destroys the connective tissues and bone that support teeth. Active periodontal treatment aims to reduce the inflammatory response, primarily through eradication of bacterial deposits. Following completion of treatment and arrest of inflammation, supportive periodontal therapy (SPT) is employed to reduce the probability of re-infection and progression of the disease; to maintain teeth without pain, excessive mobility or persistent infection in the long term, and to prevent related oral diseases.According to the American Academy of Periodontology, SPT should include all components of a typical dental recall examination, and importantly should also include periodontal re-evaluation and risk assessment, supragingival and subgingival removal of bacterial plaque and calculus, and re-treatment of any sites showing recurrent or persistent disease. While the first four points might be expected to form part of the routine examination appointment for periodontally healthy patients, the inclusion of thorough periodontal evaluation, risk assessment and subsequent treatment - normally including mechanical debridement of any plaque or calculus deposits - differentiates SPT from routine care.Success of SPT has been reported in a number of long-term, retrospective studies. This review aimed to assess the evidence available from randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

Objectives: To determine the effects of supportive periodontal therapy (SPT) in the maintenance of the dentition of adults treated for periodontitis.

Search methods: Cochrane Oral Health's Information Specialist searched the following databases: Cochrane Oral Health's Trials Register (to 8 May 2017), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (the Cochrane Library, 2017, Issue 5), MEDLINE Ovid (1946 to 8 May 2017), and Embase Ovid (1980 to 8 May 2017). The US National Institutes of Health Trials Registry ( and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform were searched for ongoing trials. No restrictions were placed on the language or date of publication when searching the electronic databases.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating SPT versus monitoring only or alternative approaches to mechanical debridement; SPT alone versus SPT with adjunctive interventions; different approaches to or providers of SPT; and different time intervals for SPT delivery.We excluded split-mouth studies where we considered there could be a risk of contamination.Participants must have completed active periodontal therapy at least six months prior to randomisation and be enrolled in an SPT programme. Trials must have had a minimum follow-up period of 12 months.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently screened search results to identify studies for inclusion, assessed the risk of bias in included studies and extracted study data. When possible, we calculated mean differences (MDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for continuous variables. Two review authors assessed the quality of evidence for each comparison and outcome using GRADE criteria.

Main results: We included four trials involving 307 participants aged 31 to 85 years, who had been previously treated for moderate to severe chronic periodontitis. Three studies compared adjuncts to mechanical debridement in SPT versus debridement only. The adjuncts were local antibiotics in two studies (one at high risk of bias and one at low risk) and photodynamic therapy in one study (at unclear risk of bias). One study at high risk of bias compared provision of SPT by a specialist versus general practitioner. We did not identify any RCTs evaluating the effects of SPT versus monitoring only, or of providing SPT at different time intervals, or that compared the effects of mechanical debridement using different approaches or technologies.No included trials measured our primary outcome 'tooth loss'; however, studies evaluated signs of inflammation and potential periodontal disease progression, including bleeding on probing (BoP), clinical attachment level (CAL) and probing pocket depth (PPD).There was no evidence of a difference between SPT delivered by a specialist versus a general practitioner for BoP or PPD at 12 months (very low-quality evidence). This study did not measure CAL or adverse events.Due to heterogeneous outcome reporting, it was not possible to combine data from the two studies comparing mechanical debridement with or without the use of adjunctive local antibiotics. Both studies found no evidence of a difference between groups at 12 months (low to very low-quality evidence). There were no adverse events in either study.The use of adjunctive photodynamic therapy did not demonstrate evidence of benefit compared to mechanical debridement only (very low-quality evidence). Adverse events were not measured.The quality of the evidence is low to very low for these comparisons. Future research is likely to change the findings, therefore the results should be interpreted with caution.

Authors' conclusions: Overall, there is insufficient evidence to determine the superiority of different protocols or adjunctive strategies to improve tooth maintenance during SPT. No trials evaluated SPT versus monitoring only. The evidence available for the comparisons evaluated is of low to very low quality, and hampered by dissimilarities in outcome reporting. More trials using uniform definitions and outcomes are required to address the objectives of this review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Periodontitis / complications
  • Chronic Periodontitis / therapy*
  • Dental Plaque / therapy
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontal Debridement / methods*
  • Periodontics / methods*
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tooth Loss / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents