How Laser Dentistry Fights Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a serious and unfortunately prevalent condition that destroys the gums around your teeth and other structures that hold your teeth securely in their sockets. These structures include periodontal ligaments (stretchy pieces of tissue attached to your teeth and tooth sockets) and the bone around the teeth. It is the most frequent reason for tooth loss worldwide and is most often caused by poor oral hygiene. Alarmingly, nearly half the adult population aged thirty or older in the United States have some form of periodontal disease.
What is Periodontal Disease and How Does It Develop?
When you fail to clean your teeth thoroughly, plaque and calculus (hardened plaque) will quickly build up. These contain bacteria that produce toxins, inflaming and infecting your gums. The initial symptoms of periodontal disease1 are quite mild, and you might only notice your gums slightly bleed when you brush or floss, or that they look red or swollen. Some people will think they have been brushing their teeth too hard and may even stop brushing or flossing, giving their gums time to heal. This is the very worst thing you could do. Although it is possible to clean your teeth too vigorously, gum infection is a far more probable cause, and you most likely have the early stages of periodontal disease, called gingivitis.
At this stage, periodontal disease or gingivitis is entirely curable, and these early symptoms are often easily reversed with a professional hygiene appointment combined with an improved oral care routine at home. Unfortunately, these signs are often so subtle that they are overlooked or ignored altogether.
Advanced Periodontal Disease is Much More Serious
Advanced periodontal disease is a far more serious condition than gingivitis and the destruction caused is considerably more severe. Instead of your gums bleeding only occasionally, they will start to bleed more frequently and at other times other than when brushing and flossing. Their appearance will change, as your gums may look increasingly red and swollen, and they could feel tender or painful when touched. Your teeth may well look longer than before because your gums will recede, exposing your tooth roots. As a result, your teeth might become more sensitive to hot and cold food and beverages. As the disease worsens, pockets will develop in between your teeth and gums as the infection increases. These pockets, called periodontal pockets can be tricky to keep clean, but they are the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Eventually, as advanced periodontal disease destroys the bone and ligaments holding your teeth in their sockets, your teeth will loosen. By this stage, your teeth might feel wobbly, and your bite could change as teeth shift position.
Treatment for advanced periodontal disease is more complicated, and this is when laser dentistry is very beneficial. Ivory Dental is equipped with a state-of-the-art dental laser that is specifically designed to help eradicate strains of bacteria found deep in periodontal pockets. There are some distinct advantages in receiving laser therapy for advanced periodontal disease.
Advantages of Receiving Laser Therapy
Laser dentistry2 is often quicker, is less invasive and which produces fewer side-effects. It’s a far more comfortable treatment for our patients because treatment is gentler and more effective. A dental laser can destroy even hard to reach bacteria deep in periodontal pockets, increasing the success of treatment. The energy produced by laser therapy helps to sterilize the area being treated, eliminating more of those harmful bacteria. The same energy also helps coagulation by cauterizing any wounds in your gums, minimizing any bleeding and ensuring stitches aren’t required.
Afterward, healing is faster, and swelling is minimized, and any discomfort is decreased. As your gums begin to heal, they will start to shrink and fit more tightly around your teeth, decreasing the depth of any periodontal pockets which makes it more difficult for these pockets to be colonized by bacteria in the future. Also, as the gum tissue heals it can aid reattachment of periodontal ligaments that may have been destroyed by periodontal disease. One of the huge advantages of using a dental laser is its accuracy. Our dentist Dr. Benjamin Hull can ensure that only the tissues that are diseased are treated with a dental laser, leaving healthy tissues intact.
Combining Laser Therapy with Other Treatments
Often laser therapy is combined with other mechanical procedures such as deep cleaning your gums using a process called scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing is very similar to a standard hygiene treatment but cleans any tooth roots exposed by periodontal disease. Sometimes laser therapy is an ongoing process, and Dr. Hull will devise a treatment plan showing how frequently it is required and if it will be combined with other procedures.
Is Laser Dentistry Safe?
Laser dentistry is extremely safe and has been widely used for several years now and is extensively researched. Laser therapy is more beneficial than only using standard mechanical therapies because it decreases treatment times and healing times a shorter. Afterward, you’ll soon be able to get on with your everyday activities and, of course, it can help to save teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted. Here at Ivory Dental, using a dental laser has helped to reduce by nearly half the number of periodontal surgeries that were previously required. Also, treatment is often less expensive and far less traumatic.
Protecting Your Overall Health
It is essential to try to maintain healthy gums because we now know much more about the oral-systemic connection. Gum health is closely connected to the health of your body, and advanced gum disease has been linked to many serious health conditions which include diabetes and heart disease. Diabetics are at particular risk of developing gum disease because diabetes helps to create the perfect conditions for harmful oral bacteria to thrive. These bacteria then enter the body through bleeding gums and can cause inflammation that makes it harder to control diabetes. Heart disease is another important link, and often any periodontal disease must be treated before cardiac surgery is advisable.
Once you have healthy gums, we can work with you to maintain them. Ongoing treatment is often necessary with advanced periodontal disease because the condition is chronic and must be continually managed to keep the infection under control. Particularly severe periodontal disease may need other surgeries, or you might be referred to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in gum health.