Periodontitis sets in when excessive amounts of tartar and bacteria localize under the gum line and subsequently infect the tissues supporting our teeth. The first stage of this disease, commonly known as gingivitis, can easily be reversed by a rigorous oral hygiene routine, which includes brushing, flossing, using mouth rinse, and undergoing regular cleanings at the dentist. When left to its own devices, however, gingivitis can quickly transform into periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a condition where the gums detach from the teeth, forming what are known as “periodontal pockets”, or infected spaces between the teeth. In extreme cases, the pockets can become filled with pus. Over time this can result in severe bone loss and weak ligaments that cause the teeth to loosen. If this goes on for too long, tooth extraction may be required. Throughout the course of this process, gum surgery may be required in order to successfully stop the infection.
Surgical Intervention Option #1: Traditional Gum Surgery
When it comes to surgical intervention, patients have two options: traditional surgery and LANAP laser gum surgery. If the periodontitis has become too severe, traditional surgery may be the only option. If this is the case, the dentist will use a scalpel to slice into the gum tissue. After carefully peeling it back the dentist will have full access to the roots of the teeth. From there, they will be able to clean the teeth, reshape the bone, and remove diseased gum tissue. At the end of the procedure, the doctor will use sutures to keep the gums in place. All in all, this route is much more painful and necessitates a considerably longer recovery time than LANAP protocol.
Surgical Intervention Option #2: LANAP Laser Gum Surgery
LANAP stands for Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure. It is a relatively new procedure that was approved by the FDA in 2004. Since its approval, LANAP has risen in popularity due to its effectiveness, minimal amount of pain involved, and expedient recovery time. Compared to traditional gum surgery, laser periodontal therapy is far less invasive. The procedure itself makes use of a laser to remove specific tissue and bacteria from the gum area while leaving healthy tissue alone. Once the pocket is cleaned, the laser then compresses the remaining gum tissue. Afterwards, the doctor will seal the pocket with a fibrin clot—no sutures or glue required.
Following the procedure, the patient will experience much less sensitivity issues than those that result from traditional gum surgery. Even better, patients who have undergone the LANAP procedure typically exeperience full recovery in as little as 24 hours.
What If My Periodontitis Is Not Advanced?
If your periodontitis is not advanced, you may be a candidate for either type of surgery. In fact, both can provide similar benefits—so be sure to consult your doctor to review the risks and determine which one will work best for your specific situation. No matter which procedure you elect, make sure to adhere to all of the doctor’s instructions so you do not experience further complications.
Post Procedure Care
Once the procedure is complete, your dentist will give you instructions on how to recover as quickly and efficiently as possible. The overall recovery time is entirely dependent on the procedure itself. While traditional gum surgery can take a week or longer, patients who have undergone LANAP can typically recover within a day or so, provided they are attentive and careful.
Patients who have undergone traditional gum surgery will likely require pain medications. This is entirely up to your dentist, so be sure to take them as recommended. Additionally, the dentist may also recommend antiseptic mouthwash in order to keep the area clean and free from infection, soft foods to avoid any disruptions, an avoidance of excessive exercise, and remaining smoke free until you are entirely healed.
After the procedure, the dentist will typically schedule a follow-up within 1 to 2 weeks. During this visit, the doctor will check the status of the patient’s gums and remove any stitches if necessary.
If you suspect that you may have periodontitis do not hesitate to contact Glendale Periodontics & Dental Implants. If you are uncertain as to whether or not you will require the procedure, they will provide a complimentary gum treatment consultation that should give you a comprehensive overview of your options.