Periodontal or gum disease is a widespread condition in the U.S. today. The most current and reliable statistics indicate that nearly half of all adults over 30 in the U.S. have some form of periodontal disease. The vast majority of these cases go untreated, often degenerating into serious oral health issues. Smoking, diabetes, family history, and some medications are all factors that increase one’s chances of developing some form of gum disease. Gingivitis is a common bacterial infection of the gums. Periodontitis occurs when the infection has spread to the point that it causes the gum tissue and bone to separate from the tooth. Symptoms include persistent bad breath, painful, inflamed or bleeding gums, loose or sensitive teeth, and recession of the gum line. Periodontal infection can also lead to bone loss near the root of the tooth.
For decades now, traditional treatment for advanced periodontal disease has typically involved surgical procedures to remove varying amounts of gum tissue or even extraction of teeth. This technique is usually effective in removing the diseased tissue that houses the infection, but of course loss of healthy tissue is also unavoidable. Bone grafting is often needed to help the gums reattach, as well. The wound is closed with stitches, and patients typically need down time to rest and pain medication to lessen the discomfort that follows such a procedure. If all goes well, the post-op patient will be free of gum disease, although the gums will typically recede due to damage to and removal of the tissue.
Anyone who has experienced advanced periodontal disease will tell you that the procedure described above is preferable to living with the symptoms of a degenerative oral infection, but the experience certainly seems less than ideal, doesn’t it? Fortunately there is a revolutionary yet well-established treatment that targets disease-causing bacteria without harming healthy gum tissue the way other treatments do. This is not only more effective from a medical standpoint, but also significantly decreases discomfort. It is called Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure, or LANAP.
LANAP was approved by the FDA as a treatment for periodontitis in 2004. It involves the use of a digital laser at a specific wavelength in order to target infected tissue for removal while sparing the healthy tissue. This is not only more effective from a medical standpoint, but also significantly decreases discomfort. In fact, there is little to no pain or bleeding involved in a typical LANAP procedure.
In addition to being a safer, more comfortable procedure, the recovery from LANAP treatment is much quicker and more complete. The gums do not recede, since the healthy tissue is left in place. Amazingly, LANAP has even been proven to regenerate bone and tooth structure! In many cases, this alleviates the need for subsequent restorative dentistry. There is no question that treating disease and infection while preserving bone and tissue structure gives you the best chance of avoiding tooth extraction.
The cost to the patient is very comparable to that of traditional periodontal surgery, so it’s hard to understand why the laser hasn’t supplanted the scalpel completely of the last ten years. Despite the numerous and obvious advantages over traditional surgery, LANAP treatment is not as commonly available as one might expect. This is likely due to the substantial investment in equipment and training required for a doctor to safely and effectively perform the treatment.
At Mansfield Dental Center, we are proud to offer LANAP treatment, giving our patients the absolute highest standard of periodontal care.