According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 64.7 million Americans over the age of 39 have periodontal disease. For those unfamiliar with periodontal disease, it is a severe bacterial infection that can damage gums, lead to tooth loss, and, over time, damage the jawbone.
It is also worth noting that periodontal disease can worsen a variety of physical health problems, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, arthritis, and stroke. From a cosmetic standpoint, periodontal disease can also negatively alter the appearance of gum tissue. While there is no cure for periodontal disease, advancements in dentistry can help slow its progression, which, in turn, can reduce the risk of damage to the jawbone, tooth loss, and physical health problems. That said, two of the most common treatments used by dentists to combat periodontal disease include laser gum surgery and traditional gum surgery.
Laser Gum Surgery vs. Traditional Gum Surgery
While the same results can, in most cases, be achieved with traditional gum surgery and laser gum surgery, there are a few benefits that come with choosing the latter. The best laser for this is the Periolase, which is FDA approved for true regeneration of gum tissues. Also known as Laser-assisted new attachment procedure (LANAP), laser gum surgery is significantly less painful than traditional gum surgery, and the procedure does not require cutting gum tissue to reduce gum pocket depth. The laser fiber is extremely small and flexible so it can get into the microscopic places where the bad bacteria are hiding. For reference, gum pockets refer to the space that exists between the bone and gum around teeth.
Individuals with a healthy oral cavity will usually have gum pockets measuring between 1 and 3 millimeters. On the other hand, those with periodontal disease will have gum pockets measuring 4 millimeters or more. As far as traditional gum surgery, this approach is far more invasive. The dentist will have to use a scalpel to cut into the gum tissue and place sutures to close it up.
A Closer Look at Laser Gum Surgery and Traditional Gum Surgery
Now that we have a general understanding of laser gum surgery and traditional gum surgery, let’s take a closer look at what sets these two dental procedures apart.
Pain – In addition to causing less pain and discomfort, there is little downtime associated with a laser gum surgery procedure. In most cases, patients can return to their normal daily routines immediately. And best of all, most can do so without having to take narcotic pain medication. By comparison, it can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to fully recover from traditional gum surgery. LANAP gum surgery is much less invasive, so you are more comfortable after the procedure.
Recession – When it comes to traditional gum surgery, cutting into healthy and diseased gum tissue can cause the gum tissue to recede extensively, which leaves tooth roots exposed. When this happens, the teeth become especially sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. That said, little recession generally occurs with LANAP laser gum surgery. This is because LANAP laser gum surgery is a more targeted approach to treating periodontal disease because healthy gum and bone tissue are not disturbed during the procedure. As a result, the chance of a patient’s gums receding is much lower.
Infections – Another one of the benefits that come with choosing laser gum surgery over traditional gum surgery is that the risk of developing an infection following the procedure is much lower. This is because, unlike traditional gum surgery, laser gum surgery does not involve using a scalpel to cut into the diseased gum tissue. Beyond that, laser surgery also destroys bacteria and reduces inflammation, which can both go a long way toward keeping infections at bay.
Long-term results – Traditional cut and sew gum surgery is slowly going out of fashion since LANAP laser treatment is more affective, less invasive, and more comfortable for the patient. Studies show that LANAP laser gum surgery offers superior long-term results since the procedure stimulates the root surface and bone, which leads to new periodontal ligament attachment and stronger teeth and bones.
In summary, LANAP laser gum surgery is superior to traditional gum surgery. It is a procedure that requires little to no downtime, provides longer-lasting results, and is far less painful compared to traditional gum surgery. That said, it is worth noting that laser gum surgery may not be an option for those with late-stage periodontal disease. In these cases, most dentists will recommend removal of the teeth and replacement with dental implants.