Imagine you’re washing your hands. They suddenly start to bleed. You’d rush to see a doctor, right?
But if you spit blood while brushing your teeth? By some accounts, more than half of Americans think it’s normal for this to happen at least occasionally.
They’re mistaken. Most of the time, it’s an early sign of gum disease.
Gum Disease Is Serious Business
One of the tricky things about gum disease is that it’s so easy to ignore. There aren’t really a lot of symptoms until the disease is pretty far advanced. You may draw some blood when you brush or floss. Your gums may look red and puffy. But that’s about it – at first.
As the disease progresses from gingivitis to periodontitis, tissue damage starts to occur.
The pockets around each tooth deepen, creating perfect hideaways for harmful bacteria. They’re dark, moist, low-oxygen spaces that are difficult to clean, which gives pathogens the opportunity to thrive – and to do even more damage to the tissues below. You begin to lose bone. Your teeth begin to loosen in their sockets. A future of tooth loss looks more and more likely.
So does a higher risk of other inflammatory conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and some forms of cancer.
In short: Gum disease is serious business. It’s why we put such an emphasis on prevention.
LANAP® to the Rescue
It’s also why we’ve made it a point to offer advanced, non-surgical treatments for gum disease in addition to standard periodontal therapy. While scaling and root planing – a/k/a a “deep cleaning” – can be helpful for gum disease in its earlier stages, it may not be enough once bone loss has begun.
Ozone therapy is one excellent option. Even better is a laser treatment known as LANAP®
LANAP stands for “laser assisted new attachment procedure.” It’s a minimally invasive procedure using a laser that targets the diseased tissues, selectively destroying key periodontal pathogens, vaporizing their toxins, and inhibiting the colonization of pathogens. Simultaneously, the laser spurs the creation of new, healthy tissues.
Here’s a quick animation of how it works:
“Clinically,” says Dr. Robert H. Gregg, II, who helped develop the protocol,
what immediately becomes apparent is that post operatively there is minimal discomfort, shrinkage of swollen, puffy gums and reduction of bleeding. After the procedure, the patient can see that the tissues feel and look healthier.
There’s also seldom any of the root sensitivity and long-looking teeth that can accompany traditional perio surgery. Even better, there’s no cutting or suturing involved. That’s just not the case with conventional surgery.
Science Supports LANAP as a First Line Treatment for Periodontitis
Recent research has shown that LANAP far exceeds conventional periodontal therapy in controlling at least some of the bacteria involved in the gum disease process. A 2018 study, for instance, found that
The LANAP surgical treatment protocol, but not conventional ultrasonic
root debridement alone, immediately suppressed red and orange complex periodontal pathogens below culture detection limits in most deep human periodontal pockets.
In fact, 85% of LANAP patients experienced this compared to just 16.7% of conventional patients.
But the thing that makes LANAP an especially fine option is that the laser actually helps stimulate the regeneration of tissues that have been damaged by the disease process – not just the soft gum and connective tissues but the cementum (the hard tissue that covers the roots of the teeth just as enamel covers their crowns) and supporting bone, as well.
Before-and-after x-rays clearly show new growth where bone loss had occurred, restoring at least some of the natural stability of the teeth. Histological studies such as this and this have demonstrated the regeneration of these tissues, as well. As a 2021 review of the science put it,
LANAP was found to accelerate the re-establishment of damaged and diseased periodontium by the formation of new cementum, PDL [periodontal ligament], and alveolar bone, thus getting some fragrance of the “true periodontal regeneration”.
That’s totally in line with how we practice dentistry at Milburn’s Holistic Dental Center, where supporting the restoration of total health through optimal oral health is exactly what we do.