If you have noticed symptoms of periodontal disease, or if a dentist has told you that you have it, you're probably wondering what you can do to save your teeth and ensure your best oral health. Depending on the severity of the infection, many people are now eligible for a minimally invasive treatment called LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure), which uses a safe and FDA-approved laser and doesn't require incisions or sutures like traditional periodontal surgery. Wondering if LANAP is right for you? Read on to find out.
Periodontal disease begins as gum inflammation, also known as gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when plaque and tartar aren't regularly removed from the teeth, and the bacteria in these substances irritates and inflames the gums. Gingivitis causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily when they are brushed or flossed. Fortunately, gingivitis can be reversed by simply practicing good oral hygiene: regular brushing, flossing, and visits to the dentist. However, when gingivitis isn't treated, it progresses to a more serious stage called periodontitis.
When periodontitis occurs, the gums retract from the teeth and leave spaces or "pockets" that are infected. At this stage, the gums as well as the bones and tissue that surround and support the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may loosen and fall out or they may need to be extracted.
When periodontal disease threatens the teeth and surrounding structures, periodontal surgery becomes necessary. However, LANAP now provides an attractive alternative to traditional periodontal surgery. During a traditional surgery, a periodontist will remove infected gum tissue and then suture the gums to reduce the size of the pockets surrounding teeth. In addition, bone or tissue grafts might be required. Because the surgery involves removal of gum tissue, it often results in visible changes to the smile.
LANAP on the other hand is performed with a laser which specifically targets infected tissue without damaging healthy tissue. As a result, there is less visible change to your smile and no need for incisions or sutures.
LANAP also has many other advantages. For one, LANAP involves minimal discomfort, often requiring no pain medication after surgery and allowing patients to return to their regular activities very quickly. The laser used in LANAP can also stimulate bone and tissue growth, thus promoting recovery. In addition, while traditional periodontal surgery can take multiple sessions to complete, LANAP is much faster.
LANAP is a safe and viable option for most victims of periodontal disease, including those who are pregnant, have diabetes, or have other complicating factors. If you have symptoms of periodontal disease (red swollen gums, receding gums, and pain while eating or brushing), you may be a candidate for LANAP if:
In any case, those with gum or periodontal disease should be prepared to improve their oral hygiene habits following treatment to make sure the treatment lasts.
The only certain way to know whether LANAP is right for you is to visit with an expert. Schedule a consultation today with Dental Partners of Boston and you'll be in the hands of some of the best dentists in Boston.
Sergio A. Guzman