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J Periodontal Res. 1998 Jan;33(1):49-58.

Eradication of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans from the oral cavity in adult periodontitis.

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Department of Operative Dentistry and Periodontology, University of Heidelberg, Germany.


Eradication of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans from the oral cavity seems to be a prerequisite for successful therapeutic outcome in patients periodontally infected with the organism. In view of the limited number of subgingival samples obtained in recent studies one cannot conclude, however, whether eradication has actually been achieved. In the present study clinical and microbiological parameters were monitored in 10 adult patients with A. actinomycetemcomitans-associated periodontitis during successive non-surgical and adjunctive metronidazole plus amoxicillin (or ciprofloxacin) (AB) therapy. In every patient, 13 extracrevicular samples and subgingival samples from the deepest site of every tooth present were selectively cultivated for A. actinomycetemcomitans. The organism was isolated in 47 +/- 29% subgingival and 64 +/- 31% extracrevicular samples. Six weeks following subgingival scaling, A. actinomycetemcomitans was detected in 37 +/- 30% subgingival and 55 +/- 38% extracrevicular samples (n.s.). Three months after antibiotic therapy, the organism was recovered from only 1 patient. At baseline, 7.5 +/- 4.2% sites had a probing pocket depth (PPD) > or = 7 mm. This proportion dropped to 2.3 +/- 2.4% after scaling (p < 0.05) and to 0.3 +/- 0.4% after AB (p < 0.05). The proportion of sites with clinical attachment loss (CAL) > or = 6 mm dropped from 23.3 +/- 13.3% to 17.7 +/- 13.4% (p < 0.05) and to 16.8 +/- 14.6%. Statistical analysis revealed that the organism was strongly related, at baseline, to PPD > or = 7 mm (odds ratio 9.8, p < 0.001). Six weeks after scaling, the organism was associated with CAL > or = 6 mm (odds ratio 1.8, p = 0.02). After scaling, high counts of A. actinomycetemcomitans in excess of 10(4) CFU/ml significantly interfered with attachment gain of > or = 2 mm (odds ratio 0.24, p = 0.001). Based on the present findings, eradication of A. actinomycetemcomitans seems to be possible with adjunctive antibiotic treatment. Elimination of the organism after scaling was only weakly associated with clinical improvement.

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