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Is gum disease common?
If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you're not alone. An estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of the disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. Untreated, gum disease can progress to the point that teeth need to be removed. Gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults.

Gum disease is a threat to your oral health. Research points to the possible health effects of periodontal diseases that go well beyond your mouth, and may be linked to other systemic conditions. Whether gum disease is stopped, slowed down, or gets worse depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums daily, as well as with the assistance and treatment by dental professionals.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Here are the most common symptoms of gum disease. If you have any of these, you should consult your dentist about the health of your gums and teeth.
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating hard food
  • Receding gums that pull away from the teeth that cause teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose teeth
  • New spaces forming between teeth at the gum line line, often trapping food
  • Spreading of teeth that once touched one to the other
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Bone loss noted on dental X-rays
  • Gum pockets greater than 3 millimeters

If you have gum disease, can the LANAP™ procedure help your condition?
In most instances, the LANAP™ procedure can help patients diagnosed with gum disease. While Dr. Winter does perform traditional periodontal procedures such as flap surgery, osseous surgery, bone grafts, dental implants, gum grafts and more, as a result of his special training, he is certified to offer LASER therapy as an alternative to other conventional forms of gum treatment. The LANAP™ procedure can successfully be performed on patients with diabetes, patients on aspirin therapy, patients who take blood-thinners such as Coumadin or Plavix, patients with osteoporosis, patients on bisphosphonates such as Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, Reclast and as well as other medical conditions. If you’ve been told you would benefit from gum surgery, then LASER therapy is certainly an option to consider.

What is involved in LASER treatment?
The patented LANAP™ Laser treatment requires a number of steps that utilize the power and benefits of LASER (light) therapy. In addition, it utilizes a Piezo scaler to remove tartar off the teeth. Once the teeth are clean and smooth, and free of tartar, the LASER is again applied in a special way to "seal" the pockets with a fibrin bandage that permits the gum tissues underneath to heal and attach to the roots. The last step of the LANAP™ analyzes the bite and the way teeth meet. Loose or mobile teeth have a negative impact on the healing gum tissues. When loose teeth are discovered, the bite is adjusted (commonly known as occlusal grinding) to reduce unfavorable forces that cause teeth to move when gentle forces are applied to them.

This diagram depicts the steps in the LANAP™ Laser Gum Treatment. A. Measures the depth of the gum pockets
B. The Laser is inserted into the pocket and begins to remove the infected and diseased tissues
C. The tartar is scaled off the roots
D. The Laser is inserted into the base of the pocket to form a fibrin clot
E. The fibrin clot seals the pockets closed
F. The bite is adjusted with a drill to remove harmful biting (occlusal) forces
G. The pocket has healed and is now shallower and healthier. A shallow pocket is easier to maintain in a state of good periodontal health.

Are medications needed for the LANAP™ procedure?
Yes. When there is no medical contraindication or allergy, patients are recommended to take an antibiotic, usually Doxycycline, starting the day of the procedure for a number of days following the LANAP™. Should an allergy exist, or the medication is contraindicated for any reason, other antibiotics may be substituted with an equivalent benefit. The discomfort from the LANAP™ is mild. Most patients, if they require anything at all, only take a few Tylenol or a non-steriodal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or Naproxen. In addition, an anti-bacterial mouthrinse is recommended for two weeks, such as Peridex or Periogard.

What is the follow-up care for the LANAP™ procedure?
While there are no sutures or dressing to removed, it is important to observe the way the tissues heal in the days and weeks that follow the LANAP™ procedure. Additional bite adjustments may be needed. In the case of very deep pockets, LASER surgery may need to be repeated a second time, though this is uncommon. Success of the LANAP™ is predicated on teeth being firm and not moving in an unnatural way. When teeth are mobile, it will be recommended that they be stabilized in any variety of ways, and that a bite guard be fabricated and worn by the patient at night.

What about the cost of LANAP™ Laser Treatment?
LANAP™ Laser Treatment is not a shortcut to rectifying long-standing gum problems. LASER treatment is complex, and requires the same skill and care of traditional gum surgery. As a result, the cost of the actual procedure is about the same as osseous (bone) surgery. Other costs include the fabrication and insertion of the Bite Guard, temporary splinting when needed, and Laser procedures may be repeated when results need to be enhanced.

If a patient has dental insurance, the same billing codes are used as traditional gum (osseous) surgery.

Follow-up care?
Once the LANAP™ procedure is performed, what else is needed to maintain the result of healthier gums? Plenty! Periodontal or gum disease is a chronic disease. There is no cure for it, but can be successfully maintained and the damage limited over the years. The key ingredient is daily oral hygiene that consists of a proper brushing technique, using dental floss, and any other oral hygiene aid that your dental professional recommends. Healthy gums are critical to your overall health. The sooner infected gums are treated, the sooner you are on your way to a lasting smile for all the right reasons.

For a dental appointment to have Dr. Winter evaluate your condition, call: 212-838-0940
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