After rather devastating negative conclusions made in a systematic review (SR) of the literature regarding the long claimed, possibly causal, relationship between periodontitis and atherosclerotic vascular disease by Lockhart et al. (2012), a highly alerted group of members of our specialty organizations, the Amercian Academy of Periodontology and the European Federation of Periodontology, had hastily organized a joint workshop, in the end of 2012, to fix unwelcome results of a number of large intervention studies by creating new systematic reviews on the Perio-Systemic link. The clear aim was to cement, once and forever, the claim of the number one clinical problem: periodontal disease and general health are closely related.
While the proceedings had been published, open access, in special issues of our main professional journals, the Journal of Clinical Periodontology and the Journal of Periodontology, workshop participants of the EFP presumptuously condensed the 209 pages of the 16, mostly valuable, papers in a nutshell, strangely called Manifesto.
Last weekend, EFP and International Diabetes Federation (IDF) delegates, in partnership with Sunstar, had met in Madrid and had worked on guidelines for dentists, medical doctors and patients with periodontitis and/or diabetes. The EFP website features some key findings when reviewing the literature. In particular, it is claimed that,
evidence suggests that periodontitis patients have a higher chance of developing pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes and that people with periodontitis and diabetes have more difficulty in keeping their blood-sugar levels under control. Furthermore, patients with both diseases are more likely to develop diabetic complications than people with diabetes without periodontitis.
Current evidence indicates that in people with diabetes, periodontal therapy accompanied by effective self-performed oral hygiene at home is both safe and effective – even in people with poorly controlled diabetes. Similarly, there is consistent evidence that periodontal therapy reduces blood-sugar levels in people with diabetes and periodontitis. (Emphasis added.)
The EFP website has posted the other day a debate between Professors Lior Shapira of the Jerusalem Hebrew University and Andrea Mombelli, Geneva. Is it time to rethink on the use of antibiotics in the treatment of periodontitis? Well, it actually is. One cannot continue just emphasizing the undeniable (if short-term) effect of antibiotics reducing the need and extent of periodontal surgery when administered as an adjunct to non-surgical treatment (Mombelli) without having the much bigger picture (real global threats of antibiotic resistance development) in mind (Shapiro). I have written about recent respective clinical reports on (transient) effects of adjunct antibiotics numerous times on this blog, see, for example here, here and here. I never concealed my opinion. Biofilm infections are indeed different.
No wonder when our professional societies and academies want to promote it with the above images. The Facebook page of the German Society of Periodontology features the left image while the right supports a recent statement by the American Academy of Periodontology’s President, Dr. Wayne Aldredge, regarding the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recent decision to remove flossing from the federal 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, citing the gap in quality research.
Claims and denials of clinically relevant effects of, in particular, non-surgical periodontal treatment on markers of diabetic control have not only led to a surge of new randomized clinical trials and systematic reviews thereof. If anybody had hope that the current frenzy has found a happy end with the updated and very comprehensive Cochrane review by Simpson et al. (2015) (s)he has been mistaken. In the June issue of the Australian Dental Journal, Botero et al. (2016) report on an umbrella review in which they systematically reviewed all systematic reviews on the subject, be it with or without meta-analysis, published between 1995 and 2015. The paper has been accepted for publication on January 20, 2016. It has to be emphasized that using the term “umbrella review” is somewhat misleading. In a strict sense, an umbrella review assembles together several systematic reviews on the same condition in the presence of many treatments or many important outcomes.