Oral Health Group

The OravitalTM System: A Paradigm Shift in the Treatment of Periodontal Disease

December 1, 2010
by Kerry Hyland-Lepicek, RDH

There is substantial evidence indicating that most forms of periodontal disease are specific infections caused by an overgrowth of mainly anaerobic bacteria species. Standard treatment for periodontal disease is mechanical debridement and successful treatment can be associated with the reduction in levels of these anaerobes in the dental plaque, thus improving periodontal health.1 Patients may experience a temporary reduction of bacteria levels leading to clinical improvement but if oral home care does not adequately disrupt the biofilm, bacteria will quickly return to pre-debridement levels.

The present standard of care recommends that patients return at 3 to 6 month intervals for life to have the teeth “cleaned”1 without eliminating the infection. Studies show that dental cleanings are not sufficient to eliminate the source of the infection.2 The emerging evidence that periodontitis contributes to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and respiratory conditions indicates that patients now rely on the dental team not just for their oral health but for their systemic health as well. This requires a paradigm shift of considerable magnitude, namely, from treating plaque accumulations to treating a chronic infection.


Diagnosis of Periodontal Infection
The clinician who is treating oral infection requires tests that identify the extent of infection as well as the source. Gingival tissue examination, probing for pocket depth and recording bleeding on probing are necessary tests that visually identify existing periodontal disease. What is lacking is location and composition of biofilm responsible for the infection. The inclusion of a microbiology assessment of oral biofilm from the teeth and tongue tests for presence as well as location of oral pathogens and provides that information. Periodic sampling post treatment provides an avenue to monitor shifts in the biofilm and provide the dental team with advance warning of potential infection.

Treatment of Periodontal Infection
The standard for treatment of most infections, systemic or oral, may require the use of an antibiotic. Bacteriological findings indicate that most forms of periodontal disease are anaerobic infections associated with the overgrowth of P. gingivalis, T. denticola, F. nucleatum and others. This overgrowth of anaerobic flora can be altered by the use of antibiotics followed by a maintenance regimen of selected antimicrobial agents. 

Five Step Approach to Oral Health
The OravitalTM System has been developed and administered over a period of 17 years as a diagnostic and treatment system for oral infections, specifically gingivitis, mild to moderate periodontal disease and breath odour. Biofilm analysis is a major component of diagnosis and identifies the underlying infection. Antibiotic rinses form the treatment component and are used for two weeks, three times a day. These rinses, made up of antibiotic particles suspended in an antifungal solution, travel into the sulcus and are effective in decreasing bleeding and pocket depth (Figure 1).

Once balanced, the biofilm is maintained by an antimicrobial rinse combination designed to balance the Gram-negative and the Gram-positive groups of oral bacteria. The OravitalTM system promotes a Five Step program in attaining oral health (Figure 2).

Case Studies Using the OravitalTM System
Patients were randomly selected from a pool of approximately 150 patients that were treated using the OravitalTM system in our general practitioner’s office. Patients in this office were given options for treatment including scaling only, referral to a periodontist and/or the OravitalTM system. All these patients were on a 3-4 month hygiene recare system and have continued to come in every 3-4 months. Oral hygiene was moderate to good in all patients. Except for patient # 1, whose clinical information was collected prior to scaling, information for the OravitalTM initial appointment was collected four to six weeks after scaling was completed.

During the OravitalTM first appointment, all patients had a medical history update (Figure 3) and an examination that included bleeding on probing and pocket measurements. (Figure 4).

Oral microbiology samples were taken from the teeth and tongue before treatment and after treatment and were analysed using the Gram-stain technique (Figure: 5). Patients were disclosed and instructed on oral biofilm disruption.

All patients rinsed with an antibiotic rinse three times a day for two weeks. At the second appointment all the measurements were retaken, including bleeding on probing, pocket measurements and microbiology samples.  The patients were then placed on a maintenance program that included a selection of rinses. The most common system of maintenance was the use of chlorhexidine 0.2% for two weeks followed by either, zinc ion based rinse (Smartmouth®) or a sodium chlorite based rinse (CloSYSTM) (Figure: 3).

Individual Case Studies
The following individual case studies compare bleeding on probing and pocket depth as measured at Appointment 1 and again at Appointment 2 after two weeks of treatment with the antibiotic rinse.

Case Study for Patient #1, a 59-year-old female with controlled hypertension
As a patient of record for 2 years, her chief complaint was gingival bleeding and odour between her teeth. After treatment, there is a 91% reduction in BOP and 100% reduction in 4mm pockets. Two years after the initial treatment, the patient reported localized bleeding on flossing. Measurements and microbiology were retaken and the patient was retreated.

Case Study for Patient #3, a 49-year-old female with controlled hypertension
As a patient of record for 14 years, her moderate to severe gingivitis did not improve despite 3-4 month periodontal maintenance. After treatment, her tissues improved considerably and continue to be minimal two years after treatment. Retreatment has not been needed. She uses a chlorhexidine rinse twice a week and Smartmouth® rinse on the other 5 days.

Case Study for Patient #4, a 56-year-old male with controlled Type II Diabetes
Despite regular 3 months recare visits, we were not able to reduce the persistent but mild periodontal disease. He refused a referral to a periodontist and asked if we had any other treatments that could help him. Following treatment, the patient was very pleased with his results. 5 and 6mm pockets are now 4mm.

Case Study for Patient #9, a 66-year-old healthy male
Patient #9, a patient of record for 27 years, has maintained good oral hygiene and regular 3-month hygiene debridement appointments with little periodontal improvement. He has refused to be referred for periodontal surgery. After treatment this patient uses SmartMouth® daily as his maintenance protocol.

Case Study for Patient #10, a 66-year-old healthy male
Although he was on a 4 month maintenance schedule, the patient developed severe gingivitis around a recently placed implant in 4.4. The antibiotic treatment was successful and restored the tissue around the implant to a healthy state. He is currently using chlorhexidine and SmartMouth® as his maintenance routine.

The OravitalTM approach is a unique system that enhances the existing periodontal program in a dental practice and provides patients another non-surgical option. OravitalTM treatment can be used for all patients who have gingivitis, early to moderate periodontitis, breath odour and for those patients who refuse periodontal surgery. Patients can see a difference in just two weeks and this increases their commitment to regular dental
care. The OravitalTM system provides patients with an easy option to obtain periodontal health.    OH

1. Loesche, WJ. and Grossman, N.S.: Periodontal disease as a specific, albeit chronic, infection: diagnosis and treatment. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 14(4):727-752;2001.
2. Loesche, WJ.: Anaerobic Periodontal Infections as Risk Factors for Medical Diseases. Current Infectious Disease Reports. 1:33-38, 1999.

Kerry Hyland Lepicek has been working with Dr. J. Fogerty and Dr. J. Hyland since 2002. In 2007, She was the first hygienist to provide Oravital care in a general dental office. She helped develop the Five Step Oravital program for periodontal care. Currently, she is the Oravital training manager.
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