It’s important to take periodontal disease seriously – both as to prevention and treatment. Most US adults will have at least a mild form of gum disease at some point during their life, but with timely and appropriate action, it need not be permanent nor cause long-term problems.
There are many methods of reversing and curing periodontal disease used by well trained and equipped periodontists today. Laser periodontal treatment, however, stands out as the most advanced and overall most beneficial option for most patients.
Below, we will look at the dire effects of gum disease if left untreated, at various other ways of dealing with gum disease, and finally, at the basics concerning modern “laser gum surgery.”
What Is Periodontal Disease And Why Is It Dangerous?
Left untreated, periodontal (gum) disease can result in a variety of serious health problems. Its effects are not limited to oral health alone but can spread to other parts of the body, increasing the odds of heart disease, stroke, out of control diabetes, Alzheimer’s, respiratory problems, birth defects, and even certain forms of cancer.
Gum disease begins to develop when plaque and tartar build up on the gum tissue (not just on the teeth) and provide a feeding and breeding ground for harmful bacteria. A thin film develops, which is composed of bacterial colonies. These pathogens infect your gum tissue, destroy it, give off a foul odor, target tooth roots, and can spread infection or inflammation to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.
The earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. The more advanced stage is called periodontitis. At first, the main symptoms may be a little “pink in the sink,” slight gum pain, and chronically bad breath (called “halitosis” by dentists). Later on, teeth can come loose, infections can worsen until white pus is exuded, periodontal pockets of bacteria may dig deeper below the gum line, and even the alveolar bone below the gums can be affected.
How Is Gum Disease Normally Treated?
Preventing gum disease is a matter of good oral hygiene and regular dental and periodontal checkups. But even with the best of efforts, it’s still possible your gums could get infected. In that case, the earlier you seek treatment, the better your chances of reversing it with minimal damage done.
In some cases, treatment will involve little more than cleaning your mouth (teeth and gums), educating you on how to improve your oral hygiene going forward, and alerting you of special dental hygiene tools you can use. It may also involve encouraging you to quit smoking, avoid excessive drinking, and follow a healthier diet to reduce the risk of the gum disease continuing and getting worse.
The next stage is often root scaling and planing. This is a surgical form of treatment, unlike laser periodontal treatment which is non-invasive and involves no scalpels. With root planing and scaling, the gums are lifted up and the tooth roots are thoroughly “scraped” and cleaned. Certain antibiotics or temporary antibiotic patches/chips may also be prescribed. Sometimes, a prescription-level antimicrobial mouth wash will also be prescribed.
If bacteria have dug deep below the gum line, then a surgical “pocket reduction” will have to be done. This will require cutting away infected tissue, killing bacteria in the relevant area, and reattaching the gum tissue to the tooth roots.
If periodontal disease has resulted in a lowered gum line, you may want to consider PST (pinhole surgical technique) grafts, which can raise the gums to their original, natural position.
Gum flap surgery is another option. This means that the gums are cut and stretched out so that they can be extended further upward – after they have sank very far down. Gum or soft tissue grafts may also be used to add more gum material and to help trigger faster gum rejuvenation post-op.
Finally, when periodontal disease has eaten away at the bone tissue just below the gums, then you may need bone grafts to restore this lost material. (In other cases, bone grafts are used to bolster the oral cavity before a dental implant is received.)
What’s So Good About Laser Periodontal Treatment?
As we have seen, laser periodontal treatment is by no means the only way to treat gum disease. And the other options listed above certainly have their place. However, laser periodontal treatment is easily the best overall method. Here’s why.
First of all, there is no need for a scalpel with laser gum surgery. A well-trained periodontist will use a LANAP or similar handheld laser tool to eliminate infected gum tissue. The laser is so precise that it saves a lot of healthy gum tissue that is adjacent to infected tissue – something no other method can replicate.
The procedure is very low-pain. In fact, most people barely feel a thing. You don’t really need an anesthetic with laser periodontal treatment, although, some patients prefer oral dental sedation.
Laser periodontal treatment eliminates bacteria more thoroughly than other methods and has a much lower reinfection rate as a result. It can be done in a single sitting as well, and there is very little pain, bleeding, or swelling post-op. Most people are able to return to work and to their normal daily routines within a day, and the overall healing time is much quicker.
The bottom line is that laser technology can be used to treat gum disease more effectively, faster, and with less chance of recurrence. That’s hard to beat. So again, while not the only viable option, laser periodontal treatment is fast becoming one of the most popular options available today.
To learn more about laser periodontal treatment or other gum disease treatment options, contact Ormond Beach Periodontics & Implant Dentistry in Central Florida today for a free consultation!