Antibiotics/antimicrobials: systemic and local administration in the therapy of mild to moderately advanced periodontitis

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This review gives an update of the current scientific evidence on the efficacy of the adjunctive use of systemic and local antibiotics/antimicrobials in the treatment of periodontitis. In particular, it addresses whether their use can improve the results of nonsurgical mechanical therapy in mild-to-moderate forms of the disease. Large numbers of randomized clinical trials and systematic reviews with meta-analyses have clearly established that adjunctive systemic antibiotics, combined with mechanical debridement, offer clinical improvements additional to those obtained with scaling and root planing alone. These effects are more pronounced in aggressive periodontitis and in initially deep pockets, whereas more limited additional improvements, of 0.3 mm for additional pocket reduction and 0.2 mm for additional clinical attachment gain, have been documented for moderately deep sites (4–6 mm) in patients with chronic periodontitis. The marginal clinical benefit in patients with moderate disease has to be balanced against possible side effects. Notably, it has to be realized that an increasing number of warnings have been articulated against the unrestricted use of antibiotics in treating periodontal diseases because of the emerging global public health issue of bacterial resistance. The effects of the adjunctive local administration of antimicrobials have also been very well documented in several systematic reviews. Overall, in persistent or recurrent localized deep sites, the application of antimicrobials by sustained-delivery devices may offer a benefit of an additional 0.4 mm in pocket depth reduction and 0.3 mm in clinical attachment level gain. In conclusion, the slight additional benefits of adjunctive antimicrobials, which were shown for moderate forms of periodontitis, have to be balanced against their side effects and therefore their prescription should be limited as much as possible.

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