Tackling gum disease with lasers

Sept. 14, 2004
Dentists providing laser treatments and avoiding using a scalpel.

Periodontal disease affects more than fifty percent of adults. Until recently, the only way for dentists to treat this condition involved use of a scalpel to remove diseased tissue. An article in the September/October 2004 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal describes a new procedure on how lasers are being used to treat diseased gums.

Laser-assisted new attachment procedure (LANAP) offers a scalpel-free way for patients to take care of diseased gums. The LANAP procedure works by using the lasers to zap away diseased tissue. These lasers are able to seek out only the diseased tissue and leave the healthy gum tissue behind.

Then, lasers are used again to heat the area until a clot (similar to a scab) is created. This clot protects the gum tissue wound by keeping it closed. Once the clot heals, new gum tissue is left behind.

"This is the first ever stand alone procedure for the laser to replace surgical methods," says Robert H. Gregg, DDS, co-author of the study. "The data shows you can treat periodontal disease without using sutures (stitches) or amputating the gums."

Dr. Gregg reminds patients that even though stitches are not needed with this new procedure, patients still must receive a local anesthetic. The LANAP procedure may also mean fewer trips to the office for follow-up care.

"These findings are very interesting," says Eugene Antenucci, DDS, AGD spokesperson. "Lasers have been proven to be extremely effective for many purposes in the dental office. As additional research is done on this procedure and similar procedures, we'll learn more about how lasers can improve periodontal health."

Benefits of lasers:
* Faster healing time
* Reduced risk of infection
* Less time in the dental chair
* Less post-procedure pain