As dental professionals, you hear tons of excuses from patients as to why they neglect their dental health, particularly when diagnosed with periodontal disease. While the cost of any treatment may be a very real concern, the truth of the matter is that most patients are willing to pay for a procedure that addresses their problems (loose teeth, bad breath, swollen gums) without subjecting them to fear and suffering.
How many times have you performed an osseous surgery only to have your patient never return? The surgery went beautifully, why didn’t they come back? Or worse yet, had patients who refuse treatment outright after hearing what it entails? Wouldn’t it be great to know what the patient is really thinking?
When you hear about dental technology from a sales rep at a tradeshow, it may not have much of an impact on your impressions of its usefulness. But what if a patient came into your office looking for a specific procedure that you couldn’t perform? Knowing what we know about people’s reticence about dental care in general, turning away someone actively looking to treat their oral health might not be a palatable experience for you or the patient.
We interviewed several people who had LANAP treatment to find out why patients accept and ask for LANAP treatment as a solution to gum disease.
General fear of dental procedures
Many people have a perception that a visit to their dental professional is going to be an unpleasant experience. For some, that fear is so extreme they may avoid visiting the dentist at all. For those who do end up in your chair, explaining what they will endure with traditional gum disease surgery can be a turn-off.
“If you’re already scared of dental work, the idea of that kind of oral surgery was about as inviting as getting the bubonic plague,” said LANAP patient Rahla. “It just caused a lot of anxiety.”
After years of rampant gum disease, LANAP patient Alfred was told by his original dentist that he needed “a deep cleaning, where they were going to pull the gums back. I was kind of scared because of that… so I never went back to the dentist.”
Not only do these reactions negatively impact your practice numbers, they also leave patients at risk. The minimally invasive nature of the procedure explains why patients accept and ask for LANAP treatment at a considerably higher rate.
Previous negative experience with traditional surgery
A patient who has a particularly negative experience with traditional methods usually only needs one go-round to decide they never want it again.
“I’ve actually been told by my dentist for a few years that I had gum disease. The last time [I visited], they told me I needed a deep cleaning,” said Marilyn, who had LANAP treatment done after refusing more deep cleanings. “It was so uncomfortable, I hated it.”
For patients who’ve made up their mind that traditional surgery isn’t for them, the concept of a laser treatment that can do the same things for them without the pain is very inviting.
Late-in-life education about gum disease
Over 80% of US adults have some form of gum disease. But because so many people have no symptoms or only very mild ones, they may be forgiven for assuming there’s nothing wrong. But as we know, there is something wrong. When patients learn they have periodontal disease, the disease may have progressed to advanced stages.
“I never went to the dentist, because I didn’t have any signs of pain — maybe some light bleeding when I brushed,” said Steven, a patient who was referred to a LANAP clinician. “I finally went to the dentist and they said I had stage III periodontal disease.”
Realizing that symptoms are not as innocuous as they may seem does not stop at oral health. With the increasing awareness of the oral-systemic connection, linking gum disease to things like heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and more has become something that helps patients be more proactive.
“That dental health would be connected in any way to [things like]
heart disease blew my mind,” said Rahla.
Independent research of options
With the internet, patients are inclined to do their own digging for solutions, even if they’ve been recommended a specific treatment plan by their dentist. Patients are also more likely to be excited at the prospect of a “cutting edge” procedure that involves newer technology, in addition to the promise of less pain.
“I had actually been told by a periodontist that he wanted to gum flap surgery. It just sounded horrible, so I went on the internet and looked at alternatives,” added Marilyn. “Sometimes people will say there’s nothing else you can do because they don’t do it, but I am really proud of myself that I looked up the alternatives and found this because it is much less invasive and there was hardly any pain.”
“The fear that I had … suddenly went way down,” said Michael, a LANAP patient of learning that LANAP treatment was an alternative to traditional surgery. “It was like a real blessing in that way that I could get this corrected without [doing] what I was so afraid of.”
They’ve heard about LANAP treatment from friends and family
As the number of clinicians who are LANAP trained grows, so does awareness in the patient base of the benefits of LANAP treatment. In that way, patients have become some of the biggest proponents of its effectiveness in the way they celebrated LASIK in the ophthalmology field.
A typical experience for LANAP patients, patient Ray said of his procedure and post-op: “Once the gums were numb, there was really no pain at all involved. I didn’t have to take any pain medication after. I noticed my gums becoming tighter since and they look more healthy.”
“I think the LANAP treatment should be common knowledge, and for the rest of my life I’ll tell anyone who needs it that they need to find a doctor who knows how to work [the PerioLase],” added patient Erin.