Host Modulation and Treatment of Periodontal Disease

J Dent Res. 2021 Jul;100(8):798-809. doi: 10.1177/0022034521995157. Epub 2021 Mar 3.


Periodontitis is the sixth-most prevalent disease in the world and the first cause for tooth loss in adults. With focus shifted to the inflammatory/immune response in the pathogenesis of periodontitis, there is a critical need to evaluate host modulatory agents. Synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are a cornerstone for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Recent prospective cohort studies showed that synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs improved periodontal clinical parameters following nonsurgical periodontal treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment with recombinant humanized monoclonal antibodies against CD20 (rituximab) and IL-6 receptor (tocilizumab), the latter also in clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia, resulted in decreased periodontal inflammation and improved periodontal status. Studies on the effect of TNF-α inhibitors in patients with periodontitis yielded inconsistent results. Recent data suggest that probiotics provide anti-inflammatory clinical benefit, as do nutritional supplements, such as n-3 fatty acids, when combined with periodontal therapy. Probiotics reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines by suppressing NF-κB pathways and promote the accumulation of T regulatory cells. Statins, like aspirin, have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and bone-preserving actions by upregulating production of Specialized Proresolving Mediators (SPMs). Currently, there is insufficient scientific support for the topical delivery of statins or bisphosphonates as adjuncts to periodontal therapy. Here, we present a critical review of the most recent host modulatory agents applied in humans and the key immune pathways that they target. Emerging evidence from novel drug candidates, including SPMs and complement inhibitors as previously studied in animal models and currently in human clinical trials, suggests future availability of adjunctive therapeutic strategies for the management of periodontitis.

Keywords: bone resorption; cytokines; immune system; inflammation; periodontitis; therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Periodontal Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Periodontitis* / drug therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2