When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums. At this stage, the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected with bacteria.
Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the jaw bone and connective tissue that holds teeth in place. It is best treated with a laser for gum disease. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. Periodontal disease is the number one reason why people lose their teeth.
Gum lasers have found ever-increasing applications in the dental field with less pain, fewer shots, and faster recovery for patients. The latest generation of lasers is now being used in various dental procedures, ranging from disease detection to soft-tissue treatments, one promising area where this technology is having an impact in the field of periodontal (gum) therapy.
In general, this high-tech equipment offers several advantages over conventional treatments for gum treatment procedures. They are considered minimally invasive treatment methods, meaning that it’s possible to perform a procedure with less removal of healthy tissue than conventional methods would require. Also, their light and heat act to seal off blood vessels and nerve endings in the gum tissue under treatment, resulting in less bleeding and pain, and thus increasing patient comfort.
In certain periodontal clinical conditions, the use of lasers may offer advantages that may be used to relatively sterilize a periodontal pocket, where disease-causing bacteria are proliferating. These lasers can help the healing process by promoting the reattachment of the gums in the bone underneath. Using them may also result in minimal shrinkage of gum tissue. As laser technology and its clinical applications continue to expand, more uses will undoubtedly be found in the periodontal specialty.
The first nonsurgical step usually involves a deep cleaning, called “scaling and root planing,” to remove plaque and tartar deposits on the tooth, root surfaces, and below the gum line. This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and periodontal pockets shrink. Your dentist also may recommend medications to help control infection and pain or to aid in healing. These medications could include a pill, a prescription mouth rinse, or a substance that the dentist places directly in the periodontal pocket after scaling and root planing.
When periodontal pockets are too deep, laser surgery may be needed to better remove infected tissues and reduce the damage to the bone that has formed around the teeth. As the pockets enlarge, they provide a greater place for bacteria to live and attack the bone and tissue. Laser surgery allows the dentist to access hard-to-reach areas under the gum and along with the roots where tartar and plaque have accumulated. Reducing this bacterial stronghold and regenerating bone and tissue help to reduce pockets and repair damage caused by the progressing disease. However, laser gum procedures LANAP and REPAIR are the trend in advanced and severe periodontitis.