More than half of US adults have had or will have some form of gum disease at some point in life. And many times, when you first learn you have gum disease, you may feel frightened and uncertain as to what (if anything) can be done about it.
But if you do have gingivitis, periodontitis, or advanced periodontitis (the three stages of gum disease), there is hope. There are periodontal treatments available that can correct and reverse much of the damage done.
(The sooner you act, the better the chances for a quick, complete recovery of full gum health.)
Laser Periodontal Treatment & Other Periodontal Treatments
There are several common treatment options available today to those who have some form of gum disease. Each of these may be appropriate in particular situations.
Laser periodontal treatment is the most advanced way to treat gum disease, and most patients are good candidates for this type of treatment. There may be certain cases, however, where a different approach is needed or where a preliminary treatment is necessary before resorting to lasers.
Let’s look at the other major treatment options first and then get back to laser gum surgery.
1. Root scaling and planing is the most traditional way to deal with gum disease. It involves peeling the gum tissue back and manually scraping the tooth roots to remove plaque and tartar and kill harmful bacteria. By smoothing the root surfaces, you eliminate microscopic nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide and colonize.
2. Gum flap surgery addresses infected gum tissue by cutting it away and the gums are then carefully cut as needed and stretched to cover the tooth roots again adequately. Soft tissue (gum) grafts may also be involved in this or in similar procedures. And sometimes, a similar surgery is performed to reduce the size of interdental spaces since that is where bacteria often attack and form “deep periodontal pockets” below the gum line.
3. Bone grafts may be needed to repair alveolar bone tissue – the jawbone tissue in which teeth are naturally lodged, that has been impacted by gum disease. Bone grafts may also be needed to provide a good anchorage point for dental implants if you have lost teeth due to gum disease or any other reason.
4. Antibiotics and other prescription drugs can be used in treating some forms of gum disease too. You can also get medicated toothpaste and/or mouth rinse to help. And some patients wear a medicated patch on the gums for a period of time to treat relatively milder stages of periodontal disease.
Laser Periodontal Treatment
Now back to laser periodontal treatment! This is the “hero” of the periodontal disease treatment options. Modern laser technology allows an experienced periodontist to use a handheld laser tool to fully treat even relatively severe forms of gum disease.
Contacting your local periodontist to schedule your initial appointment is the first step. If you do need treatment (and laser gum therapy is right for you), you will simply schedule a day to have it done.
Having already carefully examined your gums, teeth, and alveolar bone (using X-rays), your periodontist will already be familiar with your mouth!
The laser tool will be used to carefully “vaporize” unhealthy, badly infected gum tissue. The laser can also kill bacteria living on tooth surfaces above or below the gum line.
In some cases, you might need bone grafts or soft tissue grafts along with laser periodontal treatment. It all depends on the exact condition of your gums.
You won’t normally need an anesthetic with laser gum surgery because there is little to no pain. But if you prefer, your periodontist can provide you with oral sedation.
The whole procedure is normally completed in a matter of hours, not days. While it depends on the condition of your gums pre-op, many patients leave the dental chair with a beautiful smile already restored. Your gums won’t look the way they often do immediately following, say, root planing and scaling.
You can typically get back to your normal daily routine within 24 to 48 hours, and recovery is much quicker than with any other form of periodontal surgery.
Looking for the takeaway? Here are the major distinctive benefits of opting for laser periodontal treatment to combat gum disease:
- Laser periodontal treatment is virtually painless. And there is little to no bleeding or swelling as compared with other treatment options. The lasers actually cauterize the gums as they “trim” away infected tissue.
- The LANAP or other lasers used for this type of procedure are super-precise. They have various settings to deal with each task they undertake. And they can eliminate bad tissue while leaving good tissue right next to it untouched.
- Laser gum surgery can usually be done in a single sitting. It is easier for busy or dentist-shy people to schedule.
- Your mouth looks better immediately post-op with laser treatment.
- Your gums will heal much more quickly with laser periodontal treatment, and you don’t have to miss much if any, time at work. There is also less pain, bleeding, and swelling during the process as compared with other options.
- There is less risk of a reoccurrence of gum disease following laser surgery. This is because lasers are so effective in eradicating harmful bacteria that cause gum disease.
How To Prevent Gum Disease From Coming Back
What do you do after periodontal treatment? How can you help prevent gum disease from coming back?
Here are 8 helpful tips to reduce the risk of a recurrence of gum disease following laser periodontal treatment or another periodontal treatment:
1. Gently brush your gums when you brush your teeth. Use a soft-bristled brush only. Especially concentrate on the gum line where gums meet teeth.
2. Also brush your tongue, which is a harbinger of germs and, thus, of disease – including potentially periodontal disease.
3. Never neglect to floss. Flossing is just as important as brushing when it comes to your teeth and gums.
4. Use an antiseptic mouth wash. This will help kill any bacteria still clinging to your teeth and gums.
5. Use a toothpick or the back end of a floss stick for gently scraping along the junction of teeth and gums to remove food and sticky plaque.
6. Stick to a healthy, vitamin-rich diet. This will boost your immune health as well as reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease.
7. Get regular dental checkups and oral cleanings. Many problems will be caught and can be, therefore, treated earlier if you see a dentist on a regular basis.
8. Watch for warning signs of gum disease. That “pink in the sink” every time you brush could be a sign of the onset of gingivitis or pre-gingivitis. If you think you may have gum disease, see your periodontist. And consider scheduling an annual “gum checkup” with your local periodontist.
To learn more about laser periodontal treatment or to talk to an experienced periodontist in the Central Florida area, contact Ormond Beach Periodontics & Implant Dentistry today for a free consultation!