85% of US adults have gum disease. And you just found out that you are one of them.
Great. Now What?
There are a variety of treatment options, all with a common goal: killing the germs, removing the infection and closing up the pockets.
The first recommendation for treatment for the early stages of periodontal disease is usually deep cleaning of all your teeth. Your dental care professional divides the mouth into four quadrants and treats each one in turn. After numbing the gums, the dentist or hygienist cleans the root surfaces below the gum line of your teeth to remove calculus, as well as smooth and reduce the germs on the root. Also known as scaling & root planing, the treatment attempts to stop infection for progressing. However, it cannot regrow any lost bone or collagen or close the pocket that has formed there. Bacteria can still collect in the spaces between the tooth and gum, allowing germs to multiply and attack the collagen and bone again.
If your early stage gum infection treatment does not work entirely or the disease is moderate or severe, which means many more germs are present than the early stages, your dentist may recommend gum surgery.
There are two kinds of gum surgery, traditional surgery and laser surgery.
Regular or traditional periodontal surgery involves the use of a scalpel to cut and push back the gums to access the tooth root, root cleaning, bone shaping, and then stitching the gums back together at a lower level. The gums may be cut down to reduce the height of the pocket.
Scalpel and suture surgery carries risks. Dental surgeons must inform the patient of possible risks such as the necessity to remove so-called “hopeless” teeth, post-operative pain, infections, and the exposure of the tooth root surfaces, which can lead to sensitivity to cold, hot, spicy foods or liquids. The dentist who performs conventional surgery must also prepare the patient for the higher risk for cavities on the roots of teeth now exposed as a result of the treatment.
LANAP Laser Gum Surgery
Similar to the benefits seen in arthroscopic surgeries, periodontal laser therapies are less invasive, less painful, and offer faster recovery. The only laser-based surgery with FDA clearance for True Regeneration™ to regenerate tissues lost to gum disease and “peer-reviewed” science is the LANAP® protocol.
The LANAP protocol is a tissue preserving, regenerative and bone building procedure. No tissue is subtracted, or gum tissue is reduced to a lower level on purpose. The PerioLase® MVP-7™ is the only laser approved for this treatment. The PerioLase MVP-7 uses a specific wavelength to target and destroy dark colored p. gingivalis bacteria – a main contributor to gum disease.
The PerioLase MVP-7 is a pulsed Nd:YAG laser that kills the germs over a large area of the infected root, tissues, and bone. It does this with laser light tuned to the harmful bacteria shining through the contaminated areas like a flashlight shines through the back of your hand—killing germs as the laser beam penetrates and sees only the bad germs and infected tissue. Kill rates of disease-producing germs have been reported as high as 99.9% in the scientific literature.
To perform the LANAP laser treatment, the dentist inserts a fiber, the thinness of three human hairs, into the infected pocket to kill germs and infected tissue. Next, calculus is removed with an ultrasonic root cleaner instead of using hand tools for scraping. Finally, laser energy is used to warm the stem cell containing blood in the pocket. This laser warming makes the soft gum pocket tissues “sticky” and creates a seal of the tissues against the tooth root. This jello-like seal protects the pocket from germs and plaque from getting into the now cleaned and disinfected pocket to begin the healing process.
In addition to killing the bacteria and infection, the LANAP protocol also stimulates stem cells in the tissues to form new connective tissues, collagen and bone. Your body’s healing process can then regenerate the previously lost native structures–ligaments and bone–around the tooth.
Ask Your Doctor What’s Right for You
The bad news is that you just found out that you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from gum disease. The good news is that moderate to severe periodontal disease is treatable. Traditional surgery has long been the only option. However, the FDA-cleared LANAP protocol is a laser surgery option that facilitates a less painful, more successful treatment with a shorter recovery time.
Ask your dentist about your treatment options, or click here for a LANAP clinician.
Robert H. Gregg II, DDS is a co-developer of the PerioLase® MVP-7™ pulsed Nd:YAG laser and the LANAP protocol. Dr. Gregg is a co-founder of Millennium Dental Technologies, Inc. and is the Program Director of the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry. Recognized as one of the top 250 Leaders in Dental Education by Dentistry Today for 2009-2012, he is a peer-review member of the Dentistry Today CE Editorial Board. He maintains a private practice in Cerritos, California.
“CDC: Half of American Adults Have Periodontal Disease.” www. Perio.org. Web. 15 April 2016. <https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm#OverlayWrapper/0/>.