February 22, 2013
LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) is a treatment for “pockets” that are found in advancing gum disease. When gum tissues are healthy, there is a space about 2-3mm deep between the gum and the tooth. When plaque collects along the gumline, the gums get inflamed, and the tissues loosen up. The gap between the gum and tooth gets deeper, and the bone that supports the tooth is eaten away. This deeper space is called a “pocket”. A general guideline I use is that LANAP is appropriate to treat pockets that are 5mm deep (or deeper), especially if accompanied by bleeding gums.
I see 3 types of people that could benefit from LANAP:
1. If your dentist has told you that you have some 5, 6, 7mm pockets (or deeper), or has suggested you may need gum surgery – LANAP is likely to be an ideal approach to treating the problem.
If you are at high risk for heart disease, are diabetic or are pregnant, and have not been to the dentist recently, you should have a periodontal exam.
2. If you haven’t been to a dentist for awhile, but your gums bleed easily, you have bad breath, or your teeth are shifting or loose, these are all potential signs of gum disease, and you should have a periodontal exam as soon as possible.
3. Periodontal disease is linked to a number of serious health issues. If you are at high risk for heart disease, are diabetic or are pregnant, and have not been to the dentist recently, you should have a periodontal exam. Prior to starting chemotherapy, radiation, or bisphosphonate medications, we like to screen for any infections, including chronic periodontal disease.
Removing these sources of infection and inflammation BEFORE starting medical treatment can significantly decrease the likelihood of serious problems during treatment. We now have 2 amazing tools at our disposal to help these patients. First, we have a simple saliva test for the bacteria that cause dental infections and periodontal disease. This can help us to use a customized antibiotic as an adjunct to treatment. Second, we have LANAP. We are, for the first time, able to essentially eradicate the infectious process in only 2 visits, enabling people to begin their medical treatments right away.
Signs and Symptoms of Advanced Dental Disease Including Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Chronic disease anywhere in the body is insidious, thus advanced symptoms may only appear late after significant damage has occurred.
Warning signs of periodontal (gum) disease include:
- Redness, tenderness, pain, swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or biting into an apple
- Insufficient long term flossing over a lifetime
- Receding gums, frequently described ‘getting long in the tooth’
- Teeth moving or shifting
- Loose teeth
- Appliances no longer fit comfortably
- Previous history of tooth loss including parents
- History of smoking, diabetes or other metabolic diseases