October 26, 2006
They have lasik surgery for your eyes, and soon your dentist may offer LPT for your gums. The new laser procedure is taking the pain out of gum surgery.
Periodontal disease is basically a bacterial infection in the gums and bone around the teeth and can actually lead to the loss of teeth. The laser can literally erase the infection.
Anita Urbaniak has had traditional gum- or periodontal- surgery three times. She was not going to go through it again. She may have even preferred to let her teeth fall out.
"Yeah, I was ready," she said. "That's what I said, they would have fallen out if I had to go back and have that done again."
Luckily, Anita found Dr. Walter Goodell of Brighton, who offered her an alternative- a laser treatment for gum disease called LPT.
"It was no pain at all; none zero, zip," said Anita. "There was no pain even from chewing the next day."
Instead of cutting into the gum to get to the infection, the hair-thin laser gets between the tooth and the gum and cleans away the infection. There are no stitches, less anesthesia, a lot less pain and a shorter recovery time.
"I am still looking for the first patient who needs more than a single 600 mg dose of ibuprofen," said Dr. Goodell. "That is the maximum that anyone has taken for pain at this point."
LPT takes less time than traditional surgery with fewer follow-up visits. And the results are longer lasting, which is important because while it is treatable, gum disease often comes back.
"You may still get a little bit of recession," Dr. Goodell explained. "Ten percent of what we get with normal treatment, you don't get the tremendous amounts of gum recession that we get with traditional treatments."
You can help prevent periodontal disease by brushing and flossing regularly, but heredity is involved too. You can't exactly floss away your DNA, so at least they are coming up with gentler ways to deal with it.