Annual Oral Health Section
The Dangers of Gum Disease
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease affects nearly 65 million Americans aged 30 or older, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. But while its prevalence is high, many who have it aren’t even aware, since symptoms don’t typically arise until the disease worsens. Unfortunately, untreated gum disease can lead to a whole host of oral health issues including swollen, red, tender, or bleeding gums; bad breath; gum recession; and in advanced cases, tooth loss.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
There are two types of gum disease. Gingivitis is a reversible inflammation in the gums, and periodontitis is the loss of bone structure and gum tissue around the teeth. Depending on the severity of the case, there are different treatment options. For less severe gum disease, a non-surgical option called scaling and root planing may do the trick. With this procedure, your periodontist removes plaque and tartar above and below the gum line and smooths the teeth to help gums reattach. In the past, patients with moderate to severe gum disease tended to need additional treatment of periodontal surgery. Today, however, a treatment option known as laser-assisted surgery is a successful and less invasive alternative.
What Is LANAP?
LANAP, or Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure, is a minimally invasive laser treatment designed to promote gum regeneration, new bone growth, and gum reattachment. Performed in your periodontist’s office under IV sedation, a tiny laser fiber (about the thickness of three human hairs) is inserted between the tooth and gum to clear away infection and disease without cutting the gums. From there, the tooth roots can be thoroughly cleaned. After cleaning, the laser is used again, this time on a different setting, to create a blood clot to reseal the gums to the teeth.
Benefits of LANAP
For patients with more advanced gum disease, the LANAP protocol offers several benefits over traditional periodontal surgery. First, unlike periodontal surgery, LANAP doesn’t require any cutting or stitching of the gums, which means less post-operative pain and discomfort. It also means minimal gum recession. When the gums are cut during traditional surgery, the tissue shrinks, which exposes more of the tooth root. Beyond that, LANAP also requires less than 24 hours of recovery time and stimulates your body’s own healing response. HS