Journal of clinical periodontology vol:26 issue:5 pages:322-7
Several publications have reported an increased susceptibility for root caries after periodontal therapy. It has been suggested that newly exposed roots were less resistant to cariogenic species. This study examined the hypothesis that the increased susceptibility could also be related to an intra-oral microbial shift during the initial phase of the periodontal therapy from a perio-pathogenic to a more cariogenic flora. 10 patients with severe periodontitis were followed for 8 months after thorough scaling and root planing in combination with optimal plaque control. At baseline and after 4 and 8 months, samples were taken from the saliva, the tongue dorsum and the supragingival interdental spaces. These samples were cultured both aerobically and anaerobically in order to determine the total number of colony forming units (CFU) per sample as well as the number of CFU of Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus species. Oral hygiene parameters were recorded at the same visits. Finally, at baseline and at the 8 months follow-up, changes in caries activity and periodontal health were registered. Although the total number of aerobic and anaerobic CFU in samples from the tongue and the saliva remained nearly constant over the entire observation period (variations within 0.5 log), significant (p< or =0.05) increases in the number of S. mutans could be detected, especially at month 8. The significant decrease in the total number of anaerobic CFU in samples from the teeth was not associated with a reduction in the number of S. mutans, so that also for this niche the relative proportion of the latter increased. The number of lactobacilli species for the different niches showed only negligible changes (within 0.5 log values), except for samples from the teeth for which a small (1 log), but statistically significant (p<0.01), reduction could be detected. The periodontal conditions improved for all patients, but the caries activity could not be arrested. These findings seem to indicate that the increased caries susceptibility after periodontal therapy might partially be explained by a significant increase in the number of S. mutans due to ecological changes within the oral cavity. The clinical consequence of this observation would be to advocate a more strict caries preventive program during initial periodontal therapy.