OBJECTIVES The objective is to compare the amount and content of publications regarding traditional or regenerative periodontal surgery in the years 1982/1983 and 2012/2013 in two leading periodontal journals of North America and Europe. MATERIAL AND METHODS The search was carried out in the Journal of Periodontology and Journal of Clinical Periodontology. Four reviewers screened the articles and allocated the topics with respect to periodontal surgery. The distribution of articles with respect to traditional or regenerative periodontal surgery was then compared between the journals and the respective time periods. RESULTS Out of 1084 screened articles, 145 articles were included. Articles with periodontal surgery content amounted to 18% for the first time period and to 11% for the second time period. In the years 1982/1983, 7% of articles in the Journal of Periodontology and 8% in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology referred to traditional periodontal surgery, while 8% (Journal of Periodontology) and 5% (Journal of Clinical Periodontology) examined regenerative periodontal surgery. The distribution changed 30 years later, with 1% (Journal of Periodontology) and 3% (Journal of Clinical Periodontology) traditional periodontal surgery and 7% and 6% regenerative periodontal surgery content. CONCLUSION While the clinical need for traditional periodontal surgery remained, research in this important field decreased. Publications rather tended to focus on adjunctive regenerative measures. CLINICAL RELEVANCE Periodontal surgery with adjunctive regenerative measures is an established and well-documented clinical procedure. However, with respect to the dominance of horizontal bone loss in periodontally diseased patients, there is a need for ongoing research with focus on traditional periodontal surgery.