Patients who are at risk for losing teeth to periodontal disease show improved prognosis for keeping their teeth following periodontal surgery, according to a new study in the Journal of Periodontology.
The study evaluated the effects of no treatment, non-surgical therapy, and periodontal surgery on 2,350 teeth of patients who presented with moderate to severe periodontitis. Forty-eight percent of teeth receiving periodontal surgery improved prognosis, while only 12% of the teeth that received no treatment or that underwent non-surgical treatment improved. In addition, more than 35% of the teeth in the no treatment and non-surgical treatment groups actually worsened in prognosis.
"These findings are important for patients who value oral health and want to keep their teeth a lifetime," explained Stephen Harrel, D.D.S., one of the authors of the study. "It's essential for these patients to understand that optimal results are not always possible with non-surgical methods and, with no treatment, periodontal disease usually gets worse. Equipped with this understanding and an appreciation of the benefits afforded by natural teeth over dentures, even the most apprehensive patients should consider selecting the treatment option that's best for them - even if that involves surgery."
Harrel emphasizes that these findings are significant compared to previous studies that used an overall average "score" for each patient (patient mean) instead of individual teeth to determine the impact of periodontal treatments and non-treatment. "The damage from periodontal disease is often localized, so the individual teeth that have damage should be followed in order to obtain a true picture of treatment results. Results based on patient means can mask positive or negative effects of treatment."
"This research can help save patients' smiles by illustrating tooth loss as a consequence of what happens when periodontal disease is ignored and not fully treated," said Kenneth Bueltmann, D.D.S., president, The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). "And, as additional research links periodontal disease to other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and pre-term low birth weight, if this study prompts even one patient to select the best recommended treatment plan so to avoid these other possible consequences of ignored periodontal problems, then it's achieved a positive outcome for the entire healthcare community."
A referral to a periodontist or a free brochure titled Spread the Word: Periodontal Care Is for Everyone is available by calling (800) FLOSS-EM or by visiting the AAP's Web site www.perio.org.