Laser Periodontal Therapy, the LASIK for Gum Disease?
By Jeffrey Snitzer, D.M.D., Periodontist, Louisiana Dental Center, Northshore LIVING WELL Magazine
Do you have bleeding gums, bad breath, loosened or shifting teeth? If so, then you may have gum disease. Like high blood pressure and diabetes, gum disease is painless until late stages. In fact, tooth loosening is a late sign of the disease. Although referred to as “gum disease,” it actually destroys the bone around the teeth. Gums, like skin, cover the bone structure underneath. As the disease progresses, the spaces between the teeth and gums get deeper when the bone around the teeth is destroyed. The goal of periodontal treatment is to stop the progression of bone loss and save the imperiled teeth. There are basically three treatment options:
Deep Cleaning – This involves numbing the gums and cleaning the plaque (bacteria) and tartar (calcified plaque) off the teeth. This treatment, although helpful, has limited effectiveness in deeper spaces.
Traditional Surgery – This involves cutting the gums to gain access to see and clean the teeth. Stitches are placed and pain medication is often prescribed. Swelling after the procedure is common. Sometimes bone grafts are done to try and restore bone that the disease has destroyed.
Laser Periodontal Therapy – An FDA-approved laser is used between the tooth and gum to help kill the plaque. It may also help the gum reattach to the tooth effectively, and in most cases the process can be accomplished without cutting or stitching. I believe initial results show promising positive outcomes. Soreness upon chewing for about a day is the main post-operative complaint and discomfort is commonly treated with prescription-strength ibuprofen.
There are established links between gum disease and heart disease, but many people fear getting treatment from the dentist. With laser periodontal therapy, I tell my patients there’s no longer a reason to fear getting help. Laser periodontal therapy is so revolutionary, I think it will become the LASIK of modern-day dentistry. Call us at Louisiana Dental Center today for a consultation.
Dr. Snitzer has been a periodontist for over 25 years and practices for Louisiana Dental Center.