Your teeth, gums, and overall oral health are too valuable to be neglected – they impact your smile and your comfort level while doing simple things like chewing or speaking. When gum disease affects your oral health, you immediately realize how important it really is and begin searching for the best possible solution.
As you engage in this search, research online and elsewhere, talk to others who have had their gum disease treated in the past and take other steps to finding a cure, laser periodontal treatment will surely come on your mental radar screen.
But the fact is there are multiple ways to treat periodontal disease, and the same treatment method isn’t best for every case. How do you know if laser gum surgery is “right for you?”
How Does Laser Periodontal Treatment Work?
The key to laser periodontal treatment is the use of laser light to destroy bacteria and to burn away bad gum tissue while leaving adjacent healthy gum tissue unharmed. In fact, some studies have recorded a 99.9% kill rate of harmful pathogens when LANAP lasers are used to treat gum disease.
After an initial examination of your gums and teeth, your periodontist will ensure they are clean and ready for the procedure. The hand-held laser tool is used to target different types of tissue and to accomplish various tasks, including stripping away infected tissue, cleaning tooth-root surfaces, cauterizing treated gums to prevent bleeding, and “zapping” away bacterial colonies hiding in your interdental spaces and in “pockets” several millimeters below the gum line.
No scalpels or cutting tools are needed to perform this operation. It is considered a very non-invasive type of procedure and is exceptionally safe. Oral dental sedation is almost never needed with laser periodontal treatment, and anesthetic is also generally not needed. The process is described by many patients as virtually painless.
Recovery is also much faster than with other periodontal procedures like root scaling and planing or soft tissue grafts. You can normally be back at work and into your daily routine within a day or two, while full healing may take a few weeks or a few months.
What Kind of Gum Disease Is Best Treated With Lasers?
Any stage of gum disease is a cause for serious concern, but the longer it is allowed to go untreated, the more serious the condition of your gums becomes. The majority of US adults today will have at least pre-gingivitis at some point in their lives. Gingivitis itself is also very common and is considered the mildest form of gum disease.
Gingivitis may involve soreness of the gums, pink in the sink, and relatively shallow periodontal pockets that harbor festering bacteria. You may also notice unexplained bad breath that seemingly just won’t go away, and you may experience some pain while brushing your teeth and/or gums.
However, milder gum disease is not normally treated with lasers. Laser periodontal treatment is usually reserved for moderate to severe cases. This includes periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.
At such a stage, you could be experiencing frequent bleeding of the gums, even when not brushing or flossing. Periodontal pockets will deepen, exposing tooth roots and threatening teeth with fatal root-cavities. Teeth may also begin to loosen and could fall out if the underlying bone mass is deteriorated too badly by bone-eating bacteria. Also, the infections in your gum tissue could spread to other parts of your body if not treated properly and in a timely manner. Laser periodontal treatment is the most effective and efficient way to do this.
What Are the Basic Benefits of Laser Gum Surgery?
There are many good reasons for choosing laser periodontal treatment over the other options. Whole books have been written expounding its many benefits. Here, we just want to focus on the top 10 key benefits that are most important to actual patients.
- Little to no pain experienced during the procedure.
- Very little post-op swelling or bleeding.
- A minimal amount of healthy gum tissue is lost.
- Almost all bacteria are eradicated by the LANAP laser.
- Tooth roots and bone tissue can be cleaned with the laser.
- Recovery time is very quick and issues-free.
- Re-infection rates are lower than with other methods.
- You can complete this non-invasive surgery in a single sitting.
- You walk out the door with your natural smile restored!
- Most dental insurance covers laser periodontal treatment and it is affordable for most people.
It is easy to see why laser periodontal treatment is so popular. It offers a host of key benefits that other treatment options have a hard time competing with. And it often costs the same or even a little less than the total cost of other treatment methods.
Am I a Good Candidate For Laser Periodontal Treatment?
Anyone with moderate to severe gum disease is likely to be a good candidate for laser periodontal treatment. However, there are some exceptions that patients should be aware of, and you should discuss this procedure thoroughly with your local periodontist before making a final decision.
For example, if your gum disease is so severe that gum grafts are an absolute necessity, lasers alone cannot solve the problem. You may need to go with gum graft surgery, gum flap surgery, and/or with root planing and scaling in such a case.
Also, if you have certain health conditions or are taking certain prescription medications, it is possible (though still not likely) that this surgery won’t be right for you. This is why you need to share your medical history with your dentist during the scheduled interview.
Will This Surgery Affect My Lifestyle Post-op?
There are not many serious lifestyle changes necessary post-op with laser periodontal treatment. That said, there are some post-op instructions that your periodontist will give you that should be taken very seriously to promote optimal and fast recovery.
- You may need to take anti-microbial or anti-inflammatory medications for a time after the surgery.
- Taking some over-the-counter painkillers during the first 24 hours may help, although post-op pain is rather minimal.
- A liquid or soft food only diet should be maintained for 24 to 48 hours after the procedure.
- Avoid touching your gums with your tongue for a few days. Chew food slowly and carefully. Do not brush or floss over tender areas for a while but just do so elsewhere in your mouth and use an antiseptic mouth rinse.
- Do NOT try to get rid of blood clots in your gums – they are supposed to be there post-op. And do not be alarmed over color changes of you gum tissue because this is normal after laser periodontal treatment.
- Light bleeding or swelling is normal, but DO call your periodontist if pain or bleeding becomes excessive. And feel free to call and ask questions if you are unsure if what’s going on in your mouth is “normal.”
If you have gum disease and are considering laser periodontal treatment or another treatment option, contact Ormond Beach Periodontics & Implant Dentistry today in Central Florida to learn more!