According to a 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of American adults over the age of 30 have gum disease. For senior citizens, the rates of periodontitis (gum disease) are higher than 70 percent. If gum disease is left untreated, it can weaken the bone structure supporting the teeth, ultimately leading to tooth loss and other serious dental problems. One of the biggest advances in the treatment of gum disease is the LANAP® protocol — a minimally-invasive laser treatment. Dr. Wang is a LANAP specialist at Madison Square Dentistry and has treated hundreds of patients with gum disease using a LANAP PerioLase Digital TruePulse™ laser. The LANAP laser is a tremendous improvement over traditional gum surgery.
Traditional surgery for gum disease
Traditional surgery for periodontal disease is very aggressive. The dentist uses a scalpel to open up the gums and gain access to the periodontal pocket beneath the teeth. Next, the dentist cuts down into the gums, removing healthy and diseased tissue alike. The cuts are sutured to reduce the depth of the periodontal pocket. This causes the patient's gum line to shrink; the patient's smile will look different when the procedure is finished as a result. Sometimes bone or tissue grafting is required to reattach the affected gums to the teeth. As you can imagine, this requires a lengthy, uncomfortable and often painful recovery time.
LANAP laser for gum disease
Advanced cases of periodontal disease may require traditional surgery, but for most patients, LANAP is a better option. The LANAP eliminates the need to cut into the gums, which means there is no receding of the gum line and the patient's smile will look the same after the procedure. The laser can differentiate between healthy and diseased tissue, unlike a scalpel. The healthy tissue is left intact. LANAP kills bacteria and removes diseased tissue, but has no other impact on the health of your gums, teeth, or jawbone. Because the LANAP laser is so selective in removing tissue, the procedure is much safer than traditional surgery with a scalpel.
Major differences between LANAP and traditional gum surgery
- Post-Operative Pain: Patients used to ask the dentist to simply pull their teeth, rather than go through the pain of traditional gum surgery. Cutting and suturing is painful, and patients usually require prescription pain medications to help them through the recovery period. Patients might have to dramatically alter their diet and miss work or school while they heal from traditional surgery. With LANAP laser surgery, patients usually don't even need ibuprofen, because pain is minimalized. There is very little recovery time needed after LANAP, so people can go back to their regular routine right away.
- Gum Line Recession: A patient will lose several millimeters of gum line during a traditional surgery for gum disease. This can expose the roots of the patient's teeth, making the teeth extremely sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages. It also alters the patient's smile. All of these issues are eliminated with LANAP laser surgery. Your gum line and smile remain the same.
- Recovery Time: The cutting and sutures of traditional gum surgery can take several weeks to fully heal. LANAP laser surgery requires almost no recovery time in comparison.
- Results: The potential for complications after traditional gum surgery is much higher than with LANAP surgery. Cutting leaves the patient open to infection, failure of the gums to reattach to the teeth, and other problems. The LANAP PerioLase Digital TruePulse laser used by Dr. Wang stimulates the surface of the tooth's roots. This actually promotes the regeneration of healthy gum tissue and reattachment. A tooth that might otherwise be a "lost cause" due to periodontal disease can often be saved through this procedure.
LANAP laser surgery is a major advance over traditional gum surgery with a scalpel. The LANAP laser is the preferred option for most cases, but the best way to determine whether you are a candidate for LANAP surgery is to book an appointment with Madison Square Dentistry. You can book your appointment online to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wang.