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Periodontitis: facts, fallacies and the future

Jørgen Slots
Periodontology 2000 2017, 75 (1): 7-23
This volume of Periodontology 2000 represents the 25th anniversary of the Journal, and uses the occasion to assess important advancements in periodontology over the past quarter-century as well as the hurdles that remain. Periodontitis is defined by pathologic loss of the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. The disease involves complex dynamic interactions among active herpesviruses, specific bacterial pathogens and destructive immune responses. Periodontal diagnostics is currently based on clinical rather than etiologic criteria, and provides limited therapeutic guidance. Periodontal causative treatment consists of scaling, antiseptic rinses and occasionally systemic antibiotics, and surgical intervention has been de-emphasized, except perhaps for the most advanced types of periodontitis. Plastic surgical therapy includes soft-tissue grafting to cover exposed root surfaces and bone grafting to provide support for implants. Dental implants are used to replace severely diseased or missing teeth, but implant overuse is of concern. The utility of laser treatment for periodontitis remains unresolved. Host modulation and risk-factor modification therapies may benefit select patient groups. Patient self-care is a critical part of periodontal health care, and twice-weekly oral rinsing with 0.10-0.25% sodium hypochlorite constitutes a valuable adjunct to conventional anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis treatments. A link between periodontal herpesviruses and systemic diseases is a strong biological plausibility. In summary, research during the past 25 years has significantly changed our concepts of periodontitis pathobiology and has produced more-effective and less-costly therapeutic options.


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