The purposes of this 2-year longitudinal study were to: compare the clinical effectiveness of patient applied sodium bicarbonate, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium chloride (S/P) to the use of conventional oral hygiene methods and to investigate the motivational effect of using phase-contrast microscopy in teaching effective oral hygiene. Initially, 972 subjects were screened for signs of periodontitis. From these, 347 with early to moderate periodontitis were selected and each was randomly assigned to one of four home treatment regimens after scaling and root planing. The four treatment regimens included: conventional oral hygiene procedures, conventional oral hygiene procedures plus phase-contrast demonstration of subgingival microbial forms for oral hygiene motivation, S/P oral hygiene, and S/P oral hygiene plus phase-contrast demonstration of subgingival microbial forms for oral hygiene motivation. Plaque, bleeding, gingival inflammation, probing depth, and clinical attachment level were recorded at baseline, 8, 16, and 24 months. Subjects were recalled for reinforcement of oral hygiene and periodontal prophylaxis at various intervals. Data were analyzed based on disease severity, location of index sites and compliance. The results indicated that both conventional oral hygiene procedures and the S/P regimen were effective in reducing clinical signs of disease when combined with professional care. There were no differences between the two regimens in clinical effectiveness and trends favoring microscopic viewing of subgingival plaque for motivational purposes were not statistically significant.