Periodontal disease affects nearly half of all people in the U.S. While the severity can vary from mild to serious infections, the treatment goals are usually the same: clean out the damaged tissue, seal up any gingival pockets, and prevent further infection. Laser periodontal therapy is a minimally-invasive way to meet those treatment goals and return you to a healthier smile.
What is laser periodontal therapy?
Laser periodontal therapy is a treatment for moderate to severe periodontal disease. Periodontal disease occurs when your gums begin to pull away from the teeth. This could be caused by poor oral hygiene that results in gum inflammation and receding. Over time, plaque builds up and begins to harden into tartar. As gums recede and pull away from teeth, gingival pockets form. These pockets trap food particles and invite bacteria in.
Once bacteria enters the gingival pockets, infection can begin to spread.
In the later stages of periodontal disease, your immune system gets confused. It begins to fight not only the foreign bacteria trapped under the gumline but also the alveolar bone. The alveolar bone supports the teeth. Your immune system may begin to eat away at this bone, loosening teeth.
Laser periodontal therapy picks up where traditional periodontal treatments leave off. Traditionally, the first treatment for periodontal disease is scaling and root planing. Using a handheld or ultrasonic scaler, your dentist removes the hardened tartar and cleans up the gingival pockets. They then smooth the tooth’s roots so that the gum can seal itself back to the tooth.
In advanced periodontal disease, this deep cleaning may not be enough. Laser periodontal therapy targets excessive loads of bacteria. Laser on periodontal tissues focuses only on the bad bacteria and works to preserve gum tissue. The laser acts like a flashlight shining through a piece of paper. It focuses on the bad bacteria only, even in a widespread area.
What are the benefits of laser periodontal therapy?
There are small pilot studies that show that laser periodontal therapy kills 99.9% of all bacteria present in infected gum tissue, but this is not the only benefit. While the American Dental Academy is cautious about recommending laser assisted periodontal therapy for all dental use, it released small research studies that show the benefit in sealing gingival pockets and decreasing probing depths.
Probing depths refer to the depth of the gingival pocket. The deeper they are, the more advanced the periodontal disease is. Laser periodontal therapy provides a better improvement of probing depths (over just scaling and root planing).
There is also research that shows that laser assisted periodontal therapy stimulates the production of stem cells that help regenerate gum tissue. The Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP) has also been successfully used to regenerate cementum, the connective tissue that attaches a tooth’s roots to the jawbone.
One of the other issues with advanced periodontal disease is in the loss of bone. Laser periodontal therapy may be able to