As a dental professional, you clean all types of diseased teeth and gums. But are you using lasers to treat periodontal disease in your practice?
Periodontal disease begins to show up in adults in their 30s and 40s, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The NIDCR states that most adults in the United States have some form of periodontal disease.
As a dental professional, you know that everyone harbors bacteria in his or her mouth that leads to plaque buildup. Routine hygiene, such as brushing and flossing, helps to get rid of plaque, but if the plaque solidifies and forms tartar, brushing and flossing will not remove it. The professional skills of dentists or dental hygienists are required to regularly perform cleaning treatments to remove this tartar. Laser tools help with this cleaning, and you can use them, as thousands of dentists already do, easily and safely.
Gingivitis and periodontitis
LANAP — or laser-assisted new attachment procedure — uses lasers to vaporize and remove diseased tissue from the mouth. First, the laser’s heat strips away the diseased gum. Then, the laser fires a second time to heat the area until a clot is formed, cauterizing the wound.
The PerioLase laser used in LANAP treats a range of conditions because its settings are easily adjusted and because the menu can be programmed for a specific procedure — haemostasis, implant surgeries (second-stage), biopsies, frenectomies and gingivectomies.
The two main gum diseases treated with LANAP are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is sometimes termed non-destructive periodontal disease where patients experience inflammation and bleeding of the gums resulting from the buildup of plaque. Gingivitis can spread through bacterial infection to become periodontitis, causing the gums and bone structure in the mouth to deteriorate. The teeth may separate from the gums and surrounding bone structures through infected pockets containing tartar.
Treating periodontal disease
Research from the American Academy of Periodontology suggests that using lasers as an adjunct to scaling and root planing (SRP) may improve the effectiveness of this procedure. In addition, when lasers are used properly during periodontal therapy, the patient experiences less bleeding, swelling and discomfort during surgery.
Each laser has different wavelengths and power levels that are appropriate and safe for different periodontal procedures. However, damage to periodontal tissues can result if an inappropriate wavelength and/or power level is used during a periodontal procedure.
LANAP can also be used to remove the decayed portion of a tooth, such as the tartar and bacterial infection, and then to prepare teeth for further treatment, such as fillings or crowns. Similar to root canal treatment, this procedure removes infection from gum tissue and reshapes it.
In addition, LANAP can painlessly and safely provide connective tissue attachments where the epithelium between the connecting tissue and membranes is missing due to damage, and can also restore the periodontal ligament fibers that connect the alveolar bone to the cementum.
Increasingly, many dentists like you use laser therapy daily to remove plaque and tartar from their patients’ teeth.
Generally, using lasers to treat gum disease involves the following steps:
1. Pre-testing bacteria to determine the extent of the infection
2. Decontaminating the deep pockets with laser treatments
3. Executing treatment with a microscope
4. Testing post-treatment to validate the results of laser treatment
Regular check-ups and the use of simple and timely treatments help to maintain the results of laser treatment.
Dentists are using lasers to treat:
- Tooth decay. Lasers remove decay within a tooth and prepare the surrounding enamel for fillings. Lasers are also used to harden a filling.
- Periodontal disease. Lasers reshape gums and remove bacteria during root canal procedures.
- Biopsy or lesion removal. Lasers remove a small piece of tissue so that it can be examined for cancer.
- Teeth whitening. Lasers speed up in-office teeth whitening procedures.
Benefits of laser treatment:
Using lasers represents the leading-edge treatment to fight periodontal disease. Lasers provide a revolutionary and painless option to kill harmful oral bacteria, plus they allow you to preserve teeth that may have been lost with standard periodontal disease treatments.
Here are seven benefits of using lasers to treat gum disease:
1. Eliminates bleeding of the gums immediately
2. Seals deep periodontal pockets
3. Eliminates cutting the gums, soreness and other discomfort caused by surgery
4. Reduces or eliminates loose teeth
5. Regenerates bone and ligament tissue
6. Enhances the possibility of success
7. Offers an easy solution in case of a setback
Compared to the traditional dental drill, lasers:
- Cause less pain in some instances, so the need for anesthesia is reduced
- Reduce anxiety in patients uncomfortable with the use of the dental drill
- Minimize swelling during soft tissue treatments
- Preserve more of the healthy tooth during cavity removal
The American Dental Association (ADA) is optimistic about the role of laser technology in the field of dentistry. (Note: Dental lasers are different from the cold lasers used in phototherapy for the relief of headaches, pain and inflammation.)
How do you use lasers in your dental practice?
Dr. Joseph Zelig, D.D.S., is a Board Certified Periodontist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. A periodontist, speaker and educator, Dr. Zelig is currently practicing and providing dental implants New York City residents can trust at Smile in the City located in Manhattan, New York.