To review the evidence for the efficacy of periodontal maintenance (PM) carried out in primary dental care (PDC) compared to the specialist setting for patients previously treated in a specialist setting for chronic (ChP) or aggressive (AgP) periodontitis.
A focused PICO question and search protocol were developed. Online databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, WEB OF SCIENCE™ and COCHRANE LIBRARY were searched along with specialist journals in the subject area of periodontal research. Selection criteria included studies that investigated delivery of PM in both specialist and PDC settings for patients with ChP or AgP over a minimum 12 months. We looked for studies that reported changes in clinical attachment levels (CAL), tooth loss, pocket probing depths (PPDs) and bleeding on probing (BoP) as outcome measures.
Eight cohort studies were chosen for inclusion. There was considerable heterogeneity found between the eight studies, which did not allow for quantitative (meta) analysis and statistical testing of differences between groups. Clinical attachment levels remained relatively stable in patients who received specialist PM with mean changes of −0.42 mm to +0.2 mm, while for those enrolled in PDC-based PM for periods >12 months, mean CAL losses were between −0.13 mm and −2.80 mm. PPD reduction for those subjects receiving specialist PM was between 0.05 and 1.8 mm for five studies but two cohorts experienced increases of 0.32 and 0.80 mm, respectively. Increases of up to 2.90 mm (range: −0.1 to +2.90) and a higher proportion of deeper pockets were noted among PDC PM cohorts. Higher rates of BoP among those in receipt of PDC PM were reported in half of all studies. There were insufficient long-term data to make any firm conclusions about the effect of the delivery of PM on tooth loss.
Within the limitations of the data available, it appears that specialist PM is effective in sustaining periodontal stability following active specialist intervention. There is limited evidence that PDC provides the same level of care; however, the limited comparative data available suggest that outcomes could be slightly worse in PDC.