Dr. Nahid Afshari
Using Laser to Treat Gum Disease
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
In our last month's blog, we talked about the various procedures we can now do using laser technology. We want to cover treatment for gum disease in more detail because the number of people suffering from it is growing.
Per a recent report from the CDC:
47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease increases with age; 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.
What is gum disease?
The gum disease is an infection of the gum tissues that hold the teeth in place. When gum disease advances to periodontal disease, the bones of the jaw also become infected. Poor oral health can lead to gum disease, but there are other causes as well. For example:
Chronic illness, such as Diabetes
Certain medications, for example, blood pressure medication
To understand how it comes about, it helps to understand the function of the gum tissue around the teeth. In a healthy mouth, the gum tissue is snug against the tooth. In other words, there is very little space between the gum and the tooth. The smaller the gap, the more your teeth and gums are protected from tooth decay. They also help anchor your teeth in your jaw.
When the gums become infected, they swell. Swelling causes them to pull away from the teeth, which creates a gap between the tooth and the gum. We refer to this gap as a "pocket."
How do gums become infected?
Whenever we eat or drink, a sticky, colorless film called plaque forms on your teeth. Bacteria live in plaque and secrete acids that cause tooth decay and irritate gum tissue that causes your gums to become inflamed. If plaque is not removed regularly by tooth brushing and flossing, it hardens to create calculus. Calculus can only be removed by a dental professional.
In the picture above, you see a healthy tooth on the left. Notice how the gum fits tightly against the tooth. However, the tooth on the right has developed plaque and calculus, and the gums have become infected and swollen. The swelling has caused a pocket between the gum and the tooth. Also, the bone under the swollen gums has reduced.
We measure the pocket in millimeters. It helps to understand that healthy gums are between 1 and 3 mm. 4 mm is a warning sign. Better hygiene at home can often improve this number. On the other hand, 5 mm and above require treatment from a dentist.
Laser Treatment for Gum Disease
Typical treatment for gum disease is scaling and root planing. It is a nonsurgical method that includes cleaning the surfaces of teeth and their roots. With a laser, a dentist can more easily get to the infected pocket and kill the infected tissue and bacteria. Then we remove any calculus buildup. Lastly, we use the laser to create a seal that helps prevent further infection and inflammation.
The Benefits of Laser Treatment
You may wonder why we are so excited about now offering laser treatment at our office. While traditional procedures get the job done, the precision of the laser has put us light years ahead in achieving the same result. Here are just some of the advantages of laser treatment for gum disease:
Limits Bleeding: The laser is less invasive than traditional procedures and therefore helps reduce bleeding and swelling of the gums.
Shortens Healing Time: With the precision of the laser, we can zero in on and treat only the infected gum tissue and preserve all of the healthy tissue. Because there is little trauma to the gums and teeth, a patient can heal in a shorter time in comparison to traditional surgery.
Minimizes the Risk of Infection: The laser acts as a sterilizer. It reduces the risk of infection from the procedure. Also, with the laser, we can reduce the pocket and, this means there is less chance for infection to occur while the patient is healing after the procedure.
If gum disease is left untreated, it can cause irreversible damage to the gums and bone of the jaw. If the gum disease is treated in its early stages by either traditional or laser treatment, a patient may avoid surgery. However, we can treat gum disease more efficiently and more effectively with the laser. By targeting only the diseased gum tissue, we get a better result, and there will be less stress to the gums. That means faster healing time for the patient. If you have any questions if laser treatment is right for you, please contact us.
Dr. Nahid Afshari, D.D.S.