Gum disease is an incredibly common problem, and many people will develop this condition during their lifetime. It is a serious disease that requires expert care because, without prompt treatment, it can become irreversible. Advanced gum disease, called periodontal disease can destroy the gums, the bone surrounding teeth and stretchy pieces of tissue called periodontal ligaments that help attach the teeth to the bony sockets. Just as worryingly, gum disease can have a detrimental effect on overall health.
There are numerous ways to treat gum disease, but increasingly dentists and periodontists are offering patients the very latest in laser therapy. Although dental lasers are still considered cutting-edge technology, they’ve actually been widely used for quite a while now. As such, the efficacy of laser dentistry has been extensively studied, and there are several significant advantages in selecting a dentist or periodontist offering this service.
A More Accurate Treatment
Conventional treatment uses a scalpel to remove gum tissue too severely damaged by the disease to heal. It’s an effective way to treat the disease but afterward, healing can be quite slow, and there is an increased risk of unpleasant side-effects such as swelling and bleeding. Usually, stitches are needed.
Laser gum surgery offers a more precise way to remove damaged tissues, leaving more of the healthy tissue intact which is far preferable. Also, as the laser cuts the tissue, it automatically seals the cut using a process called thermocoagulation. This means there is no need for stitches and afterward, the risk of infection is reduced, as is the risk of other side-effects such as swelling. Laser dentistry can be a far less invasive way to treat periodontal disease.
More Effective at Eliminating Infection
Another important consideration is the effectiveness of laser energy in eliminating bacteria. Advanced gum disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria, and obviously, treatment aims to remove as much of this bacterial infection as possible. The more bacteria that are removed, the greater the chance that the gums will begin to heal and that the body’s immune system can fight the infection more effectively.
One of the problems with gum disease is that as the disease progresses, the gums begin to separate from the teeth, creating gaps known as periodontal pockets. These gaps can become quite deep, and as the infection progresses, it can start to eat away at the bone around the teeth. Because these periodontal pockets are so deep, they cannot be cleaned with an ordinary toothbrush, but without treatment, the teeth will eventually loosen and will fall out. What’s worse is that these periodontal pockets are the ideal environment for disease-causing bacteria to thrive.
Laser dentistry is a highly effective way of treating deep periodontal pockets because the tip of the laser can reach right inside the periodontal pocket, and the energy produced by the laser helps to eliminate bacteria that cannot be removed mechanically. It’s an excellent way for a dentist to sterilize the areas that have been treated during gum therapy.
Afterward, because more of the infection has been removed, the gums can heal more efficiently and eventually the size and depth of the periodontal pockets should begin to reduce. Treatment aims to help shrink these pockets, so the gums start to fit more tightly and snugly around the teeth, preventing further infection from occurring.
Can Be Combined with Conventional Treatments
One effective nonsurgical treatment for advanced gum disease is called scaling and root planing, and it’s like a hygiene appointment except that it takes things one step further. This is because advanced gum disease exposes the tooth roots as the gums separate from the teeth. These tooth roots must be cleaned thoroughly, removing all plaque and tartar buildup because these substances contain bacteria.
A hygienist uses special ultrasonic tools to remove the plaque and tartar and afterward, the treated tooth root is smoothed or planed. A smoother surface makes it harder for plaque bacteria to adhere. Combining this treatment with laser therapy can help to sterilize the areas being treated more effectively, keeping advanced gum disease at bay.
Appointments Can Be Quicker
Using a dental laser is highly accurate, so appointments may be quicker and of course, much smoother and more comfortable. It’s a huge advantage because often treatment for advanced periodontal disease is ongoing, and people must have their teeth and gums cleaned more frequently, possibly every three or four months instead of the regular six-monthly intervals.
Is It Safe?
Laser dentistry should be extremely safe, as your dentist will have been appropriately trained in its use. A well-run dental office will ensure all equipment including their dental laser is maintained and serviced regularly.
Laser Dentistry Can Only Do So Much to Help You
Effective laser dentistry is only part of the solution for treating gum disease. While it can help eliminate the bacteria causing the infection, these bacteria will come back, and you must be vigilant about maintaining excellent oral health. It is essential to follow the advice of your dentist and hygienist to the letter. They can show you how to look after your teeth and gums more effectively, so that every time you brush and floss, you remove the maximum number of bacteria. Also, it is critical to stick to the recommended treatment plan as it is designed to help you gain and maintain optimal oral health.
If possible, see a periodontist for any type of treatment and diagnosis of advanced periodontal disease, as it can be far preferable to do so. Although your general dentist might be fine for treating less well-advanced periodontal disease, they will not be able to provide the range of procedures available at a periodontal dental office. Periodontists have spent several years completing additional training at dental school before qualifying as a specialist. They will be more up-to-date with the very latest procedures and techniques, and their dental office is more likely to be equipped with advanced technology to diagnose and treat gum disease.
Your general dentist can refer you to a good periodontist, but you don’t need a referral to schedule an appointment. It can be worthwhile just seeing a periodontist periodically for a proper evaluation of your gum health. Your teeth need healthy gums to hold them in place!