Public Release: 

Photodynamic therapy as alternative therapy for periodontal diseases may be beneficial

Alternative to antibiotics may be more effective and less harmful

American Academy of Periodontology

CHICAGO -- Photodynamic therapy (PDT) may be an effective way to treat the bacteria associated with periodontal diseases, and could provide a better option than antibiotics or other mechanical methods for treating periodontal diseases, according to a new study published in the March issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

Researchers at São Paulo State University found that using PDT was an effective method to minimize destruction of periodontal tissue which can accompany treatment for periodontal diseases. In a rat population, PDT did minimal damage to periodontal tissues, in comparison to other techniques including scaling and root planing and antibiotic therapy.

"We found that PDT is significantly less invasive than other treatments for periodontal diseases," said study author Dr. Valdir Gouveia Garcia, from the Department of Periodontology at São Paulo State University. "It can provide improved dentin hypersensitivity, reduced inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth, and allows tissues to repair faster."

PDT may be an alternative to antibiotic treatment, which is becoming increasingly important as antibiotic resistance increases. PDT involves two stages; first, a light-sensitive drug is applied to the area. Second, a light or laser is shone on that area. When the light is combined with the drug, phototoxic reactions induce the destruction of bacterial cells. PDT was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1999 to treat pre-cancerous skin lesions of the face or scalp.

"This is an exciting finding," said Preston D. Miller, Jr., DDS and President of the American Academy of Periodontology. "PDT may be an effective therapy for the treatment of periodontal diseases. While patients have many options for treating their periodontal diseases, PDT could prove to be a preferable alternative to antibiotic therapy. Unfortunately, long term antibiotic therapy not only decreases the drug's effectiveness, but also may lead to the development of drug resistant organisms. Our Academy supports future research to further define the application of PDT as a means to treat periodontal disease."


To asses your periodontal health visit and click on "Assess your gum disease risk". A referral to a periodontist and a free brochure titled Periodontal Diseases: What You Need to Know are available by visiting the AAP website at or calling toll-free at 800/FLOSS-EM (800.356-7736).

The American Academy of Periodontology is an 8,000-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.

Kerry Gutshall
The American Academy of Periodontology
Phone: 312.573.3243
Fax: 312.573.3234

EDITOR'S NOTE: A copy of the JOP article "Influence of photodynamic therapy on the development of ligature-induced periodontitis in rats" is available to the media by contacting the AAP Public Affairs Department at 312/573-3243. The public and/or non-AAP members can view a study abstract online, and the full-text of the study may be accessed online for $20.00 at

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