Photodynamic therapy effective in treating periodontitis

Antimicrobial photodynamic therapy (a-PDT) is effective in treating chronic periodontitis, according to a meta-analysis in Lasers in Medical Science (December 19).

In PDT, a light-sensitive drug is applied to the area to be treated. The same area is then exposed with light or laser energy. The combination of the drug and the photons induces a phototoxic reaction that destroys the bacterial cells.

Recognizing that a-PDT has been shown to be a promising -- albeit novel -- approach for a variety of medical treatments, Momen A. Atieh, B.D.S., M.Sc., of the Sir John Walsh Research Institute at the University of Otago set out to systematically investigate the effectiveness of a-PDT as an adjunctive treatment for chronic periodontitis.

Dr. Atieh conducted an electronic search for randomized controlled trials that investigated the combined use of scaling and root planing and a-PDT in comparison with SRP alone.

Four trials were included in the review. Dr. Atieh found that the use of a-PDT in conjunction with SRP was associated with significantly greater attachment gain (mean difference 0.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.08 to 0.50, p = 0.007) and greater reduction in probing depth (mean difference 0.11, 95% CI -0.12 to 0.35, p = 0.35) at 12 weeks. However, the changes in gingival recession showed slight differences.

While this meta-analysis supported the potential improvements in clinical attachment level and probing depth provided by using SRP with a-PDT, the findings of this review should be interpreted with caution given the small number of included studies, Dr. Atieh noted.

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