Background: The progression of periodontal disease without treatment and the response of existing periodontal disease to various types of treatment have been studied extensively. Many past studies have used the mean of the patient's probing depths or attachment levels to evaluate disease progression as opposed to following changes in individual sites or teeth. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the response of individual teeth to treatment or non-treatment. Methods: The records from a private periodontal practice were reviewed to find patients with complete periodontal examinations that were recorded at least 1 year apart. Patients who fit these criteria were divided into those who had none of the recommended treatment (untreated, n = 30); those who had only non-surgical treatment (partially treated, n = 20); and a control group who had completed all recommended treatment (surgically treated, n = 41). The data for each tooth of each patient were placed in a database and analyzed using the method of generalized estimating equations (GEE) to test for associations between increase or decrease in probing depths and various initial clinical parameters while adjusting for significant confounders. Results: Teeth that received no treatment or non-surgical treatment showed significant increases in probing depths, worsening of prognosis, worsening of furcation involvement, and increases in mobility when compared to surgically treated teeth. Teeth that received surgical treatment showed significant decreases in probing depths. No significant difference was noted between teeth that had no treatment and teeth that had non-surgical treatment. Conclusions: When individual teeth are used as the basis for analysis, teeth that receive no treatment or non-surgical treatment show a significant worsening of probing depths, furcations, mobility, and prognosis when compared to teeth that receive surgical treatment, while surgically treated teeth show significant improvement in probing depths.
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