Self-performed plaque removal using manual or powered toothbrushes and interdental cleaning devices is improved in subjects that have received oral hygiene instructions. Personal oral hygiene coupled with regular professional supragingival debridement may further improve the level of plaque control but still fails to achieve a completely plaque-free dentition. Both patient-performed and professional supragingival plaque removal has an effect on subgingival microbiota that is limited to the marginal 3 mm of the periodontal pocket. At sites with 4 mm or more of probing depth, only subgingival scaling leads to a significant reduction of the bacterial load. The subgingival microflora can be further reduced by pocket elimination surgery. Due to the sequence of bacterial recolonization that occurs following mechanical debridement, the level of periodontal pathogens such as B. forsythus, P. gingivalis and T. denticola may be reduced for several months. Mechanical debridement also influences the patient's immune system response, resulting in antibody titers and avidity against periodontal pathogens. As a basis for the restoration and maintenance of periodontal health, repeated subgingival debridement, as performed in supportive periodontal therapy, can reduce the number and proportions of periodontopathogenic bacteria in subgingival plaque. However, intensive subgingival scaling and root planing should be avoided in sites that probe less than 3 mm, as this is likely to traumatize the periodontium and cause attachment loss.
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