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An Interdisciplinary Solution to a Complex Periodontal Case

In most developed countries of the world, the dental IQ of the average patient has increased considerably over the last decades and they expect dental solutions that restore function as well as health, aesthetics, and self-esteem. Dentistry itself has evolved from the aggressive and resective procedures of the past which, by contemporary standards, can seem imprecise and invasive. There is now ample evidence that periodontal disease can be reversed in the majority of instances, and that teeth—with proper maintenance—can be maintained for many years in health, function, and comfort, even when severely affected.1,2 The origins of periodontitis – which is defined as inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth – and the role of the known risk factors are much better understood. Innovative surgical approaches allow periodontists to regain support and restore tissue in affected areas. Additionally, the development and success of osseointegrated implants anchored directly into bone have facilitated the restorative aspects of treatment.

To address the aesthetic expectations of today’s patient, the clinician should consider moderate-to-severe periodontitis more frequently, and understand how it impacts to the desired outcome—particularly in the aesthetic zone. Hence, orthodontics must be included in the treatment plan. Once primarily associated with adolescent patients, orthodontic treatment has become common among a significant proportion of adults.3-6

Consequently, dentistry needs to develop an interdisciplinary approach to treatment for such cases and put together a dental team that includes specialists as well as auxiliaries with similar philosophies and skills.7,8 The participating practitioners need to convey the benefits of embarking on a comprehensive, extensive, time consuming, and occasionally expensive treatment to the patient. Once completed, however, satisfaction with the results combined with improved self-esteem and a positive response from others will make the cost and process worthwhile for the patient.

The following case report illustrates treatment performed, with the cooperation of different specialists, on a female patient with advanced periodontal disease and severe malocclusion.

##PAGE##Case Presentation

Diagnostic Phase

The 48-year-old female patient was a nonsmoker in excellent systemic health, who hoped to retain some of her teeth. In two previous consultations, she was advised to extract all her teeth and replace them with implant-supported overdentures. The patient’s dental history indicated she had never received dental treatment, except for extractions. Clinical examination revealed severe malocclusion with tooth migration and malposition; diastemata and the collapse of vertical dimension were noted as consequences of extractions performed a decade earlier (Figure 1). Her oral hygiene habits were deficient and periodontal examination revealed moderate-to-deep pockets and loss of clinical attachment. The deepest involvement affected the maxillary anterior teeth and the molars, where furcation defects were detected, meaning areas of bone loss affecting the base of the root loss. This resulted in a diagnosis of generalized moderate and localized advanced chronic periodontitis (Figure 2). Loss of attachment ranged from 2 mm to 10 mm; 72 percent of the pockets were 4 mm or deeper and 43 percent were at least 6 mm. Nearly half (48 percent) of the teeth had grade 1 mobility, 26 percent had a grade 2 mobility, and the remaining 26 percent had no mobility.

Upon complete and comprehensive analysis, a multidisciplinary treatment was offered to the patient. A waxup remount was performed to determine the position the teeth would have following orthodontic therapy, the shape and size of the definitive fixed prosthesis, and the location of the implants that would support the reconstruction (Figure 3).9

Treatment Protocol

The first phase of therapy was periodontal treatment, which included periodontal debridement (ie, scaling and root planing) of the entire dentition as well as oral hygiene instruction. After reevaluation, 34 percent of the sites still showed bleeding upon probing, and mucoperiosteal flaps were raised in the four quadrants. Once the supportive phase of periodontal therapy was underway and the patient demonstrated hygiene compliance and stable results, the orthodontic treatment was initiated.

Implants were inserted at this stage to provide, upon osseointegration, anchorage that would permit activation of the orthodontic appliances (Figure 4). The diastemata in the mandibular anterior region were closed by mesializing the teeth from premolar to premolar, which would maintain the inclination and position of the mandibular incisors. In this way, her facial profile was not altered. To replace tooth #30(46) with an implant, where no space was available, the anterior diastemata were increased by stripping. Hence, the mesialization of the premolars was increased and, at the same time, a better interradicular distance was achieved among the remaining teeth. The diastemata in the maxillary anterior region were closed through retrusion of the teeth, or moving them backwards, since they were in an excessively protruded position. These movements were performed over a period of approximately nine months. They generated a minimal increase in the vertical dimension of occlusion and created additional space where the remaining implants were to be installed. All the implants placed were 3.75 mm or 4 mm in width, 10 mm to 15 mm in length, and featured a sandblasted, acid-etched surface. The orthodontic appliances were removed approximately 10 months thereafter.

During treatment, provisional restorations were placed to maintain not only aesthetics but also to provide healthy gingival contours and function. These provisional restorations were later replaced by definitive implant-supported, metal-ceramic restorations. Previously, a subepithelial connective tissue graft was placed at the site of the maxillary left implants to correct a gingival margin defect. The black triangles, however, were evident (Figure 5).10

Satisfied with the results achieved, the patient requested further treatment to improve her dental aesthetics. Periodontal plastic surgery was performed to correct the uneven gingival contour affecting the maxillary anterior teeth (Figure6). The condition of the gingival tissue and alveolar bone was evaluated (Figures 7 and 8), and direct composite veneers were placed on the mandibular anterior teeth. The maxillary anterior would be restored with feldspathic veneers to achieve optimal aesthetics.

A diagnostic waxup for these porcelain laminate veneers was created in the laboratory. This waxup would guide tooth preparation and aid in the fabrication of two sets of provisional restorations needed to achieve the patient’s aesthetic goals (Figures 9-10-11). Following the blueprint provided by the provisional restorations, the definitive feldspathic veneers were fabricated and cemented in place (Figures 12 and 13).11

Patient Recall

Six years following the initial periodontal examination, only seven percent of the pockets remained six mm or deeper, with total absence of bleeding upon probing. Eighty percent of the periodontal pockets measured less than 4 mm in depth. Seventy-five percent of the pockets had reduced, four percent had not changed, and one percent showed a minor increase in depth. While furcations were still present, 97 percent of the teeth had no mobility, and three percent had a mobility of grade 1. The patient continued to demonstrate excellent compliance with her oral hygiene regimen (Figures 14-15-16).


This extensive and comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment has permitted the resolution of a severely compromised patient with a conservative approach. All of the patient’s teeth were maintained, and the health of the remaining periodontium was preserved. The patient was pleased with the aesthetics achieved and thankful for the services provided by the members of the restorative team. Function, stability, and aesthetics have been achieved, and the patient’s self-esteem has been reaffirmed.


  1. Chace R, Low SB. Survival characteristics of periodontally-involved teeth: A 40-year study. J Periodontol 1993;64:701-705.
  2. Wojcik MS, DeVore CH, Beck FM, et al. Retained “hopeless” teeth: Lack of effect periodontally-treated teeth have on the proximal periodontium of adjacent teeth 8-years later. J Periodontol 1992;63:663-666.
  3. Kokich VG. Managing complex orthodontic problems: The use of implants for anchorage. Semin Orthod 1996;2:153-160.
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  8. Sada-Garralda V, Caffesse RG. Enfoque ortodóncico en el tratamiento multidisciplinario de pacientes adultos. Su relación con implantes y prostodoncia. Revista del Consejo de Odontólogos y Estomatólogos de España 2004;9(2):195-207.
  9. Smalley WM. Implants for tooth movement: Determining implant location and orientation. J Esthet Dent 1995;7:62-72.
  10. Tarnow D, Magner A, Fletcher P. The effect of the distance from the contact point to the crest of bone on the presence or absence of the interproximal dental papilla. J Periodontol 1992;63:995-996.
  11. Magne P, Perrond R, Hodges JS, Belser U. Clinical performance of novel-design porcelain veneers for the recovery of coronal volume and length. Int J Periodont Rest Dent 2000;20:441-457.
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