What is gum disease?
Gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis, is a chronic bacterial infection. Gum disease is caused by plaque, which creates toxins that damage the gums. In the initial stages of the disease, gums can become red, swollen and bleed easily. However, some patients have no symptoms at all. If the condition worsens, gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged and the teeth can become loose, fall out or have to be removed.1 Learn more about gum disease.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
Most patients don’t realize the signs of gum disease and symptoms are not painful, so gum disease often goes undetected or ignored until severe gum and bone destruction catches an individual’s attention. Other signs can include “pink in the sink” – traces of blood when you brush or floss, gums that are red or swollen, and bad breath. Read more about causes here.
How do you get gum disease?
Gum disease has several risk factors: smoking, age, genetics, gender, and ethnicity all are important indicators. Since gum disease is a bacterial infection, it is also communicable – meaning a person with gum disease can pass the infection to others.
How prevalent is gum disease in the United States?
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the condition affects 85 percent of American adults aged 18 and older and moderate to severe forms of gum disease affect 74 percent of the adult population.2 Although experts vary in their estimation of the prevalence of gum disease, it is clearly one of the most common conditions in the United States. Fifty out of every 100 adult Americans have moderate to severe gum disease, 40 out of the 50 do not know it, and fewer than two of them will get treated before it’s too late. Michael G. Newman D.D.S., F.A.C.D, Adjunct Professor of Periodontics, Associated Clinical Specialties at the UCLA School of Dentistry, estimates that more than 100 million American adults suffer from moderate to severe gum disease, yet only about three percent receive treatment in a given year.3
What is the traditional treatment option for periodontal disease?
Traditionally, patients diagnosed with moderate to severe gum disease have undergone scalpel and suture periodontal surgery, a highly invasive and often painful procedure. During the surgery, gums are actually cut in order to scrape tartar off the roots. Drills are then used to reshape bone. Once this is complete, the gums are repositioned to the tooth with stitches, sometimes along with placement of bone grafts to fill in the defects. Surgery is followed by a lengthy recovery period where repositioned gum tissue and exposed roots can be sensitive, painful and subject to cavities. Read more about treatment options here.
What is the LANAP protocol?
The LANAP protocol, a laser periodontitis treatment, is the first and only specific periodontal protocol to receive FDA clearance for “true regeneration” and has been in widespread use by the dental community for many years. The LANAP protocol is typically performed in a dentist’s office under local anesthesia. Prior to the procedure, the dentist does a periodontal charting and takes X-rays to make a paper diagnosis and determine the extent of the disease syndrome. A tiny laser fiber (about the thickness of three human hairs) is inserted between the tooth and the gum, and the infection and disease are cleared away without cutting the gums. The tooth roots are then thoroughly cleaned of tartar and plaque, and the laser is used again with a different setting to create a stable, firm fibrin blood clot to seal the pocket. The dentist treats one half of the patient’s mouth at each session, and most patients are able to drive themselves back to work or home following the procedure. Dentists typically recommend a soft diet for several days, but in most cases, patients feel well enough to eat their typical diet soon after the procedure.
What are the benefits of the LANAP® protocol in the treatment of gum disease?
- Less post-operative pain — The LANAP protocol using the PerioLase MVP-7 helps avoid cutting and stitching of the gums. As a result, patients usually have minimal post-operative discomfort.
- Fewer sessions — The LANAP protocol requires only one to two sessions with the dentist, each lasting two to three hours, with two follow-up visits. Traditional surgery generally requires several sessions, with subsequent visits for suture removal and additional check-ups.
- Quicker recovery time — Most patients are able to return to their regular daily activities immediately following the procedure, which generally requires less than a 24-hour recovery period. Following traditional scalpel & suture surgery, recovery can take two to four weeks, during which patients can experience considerable pain and swelling and may be restricted to liquid or soft diets.
Who is a candidate for LANAP laser surgery?
Patients with moderate-to-severe gum disease can especially benefit from the LANAP protocol. The LANAP protocol is also an excellent treatment option for patients who are fearful of conventional scalpel surgery.
Do I have to stop taking my medication for LANAP laser surgery?
Because of the unique properties of the PerioLase laser wavelength, patients on blood thinners or with aspirin regimens do not have to stop taking any medications.
How many treatments will I need with the LANAP protocol?
The LANAP® Procedure doesn’t take much time at all — just two two-hour sessions versus eight to ten one-hour sessions with conventional surgery. You don’t have to worry about bleeding, stitches, or post-treatment infection, because your gums haven’t been cut.
What about patient discomfort and recovery versus conventional surgery?
Some of the primary benefits of LANAP laser surgery as compared to traditional cut-and-sew surgery are:
- Less pain
- Less bleeding
- Less sensitivity
- Less gum loss
- Less swelling
- Very little downtime after treatment
- Less Post-op infections
- Promotes regeneration of supporting gum tissues
- Healing is perceived to be faster and more comfortable than conventional surgery
Who can perform the LANAP® protocol to treat patients with gum disease?
Only certified dentists can perform the LANAP protocol.
What should I expect after LANAP treatment?
After LANAP treatment, your gums may be sore for a few days. Generally, the pain can be managed with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. Opioids are rarely needed. You will be on a liquid/soft diet for two weeks to help keep your teeth stable during initial healing. Bone can continue to regenerate for 18 months through 3 years. During this time your LANAP clinician will schedule regular visits to adjust your bite and check your healing progress.
What training does my LANAP trained doctor have?
All dentists certified to perform the technique are required to complete Laser BootCamp®, a comprehensive, three-day, clinical, hands-on, dentist-to-dentist training at the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry (IALD). This training ensures that doctors are skilled and competent to perform the LANAP protocol on live patients upon return to their clinical practice offices. Laser BootCamp represents the first three days of five-day training curriculum to be completed over a one-year period. At the conclusion of all five days of training, the clinician is awarded a LANAP Proficiency certificate.
Can any laser be used for the LANAP protocol?
Only the PerioLase MVP-7 is designed to support the parameters of the LANAP protocol. If your dentist does not have the PerioLase MVP-7, then your dentist can not perform LANAP surgery.
Will insurance companies cover the LANAP protocol?
Like with any disease condition, insurance companies usually have coverage for treatment. Periodontal disease treatment is covered by most insurance carriers, but varies by carrier and clinician. Speak with your doctor about your coverage plan.
- “Periodontal Gum Disease FAQ,” American Dental Association: http://www.ada.org/3063.aspx?currentTab=1#faq
- http://www.dent.ucla.edu/bio/bio.asp?id=277 21-00-026 – Rev. A 10/23/09