We’ve developed a number of effective treatments for periodontal (gum) disease. Depending on how far and deep a patient’s infection has advanced, treatment can be quite invasive and even require surgery. The more invasive, the longer and more uncomfortable the healing process can be.
But using a medical laser could make that less so. Although its use for gum disease treatment is still in its infancy, the latest observations from the field seem to show patients undergoing laser treatment may have less tissue trauma and bleeding, less discomfort after the procedure and quicker healing times.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection mostly caused by dental plaque, a thin film of food particles that build up on teeth in the absence of effective oral hygiene. The infection can advance deep below the gum line, weakening gum attachment to teeth and destroying supporting bone. Ultimately the affected teeth can be lost.
Traditionally, the only way to stop the disease is to manually remove plaque buildup on teeth and gum surfaces, which is continuing to sustain the infection, with special hand instruments called scalers or ultrasonic equipment. Because it’s important to remove as much plaque and diseased tissue as possible, we may need to perform a surgical procedure called flap surgery to move some of the gum tissues out of the way to get to these deeper areas. As with any surgery, this can create tissue trauma that may cause discomfort during the healing process.
Our new alternative is to use an Nd:YAG medical laser in a procedure known as Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure or LANAP. With light energy delivered through a small fiber no more than the width of three human hairs, the laser can pinpoint diseased tissue and destroy bacteria through intense heat. Because of the laser beam’s tiny width and pulsing action, healthy tissue is at less risk for trauma than with the traditional treatment.
Coupled with other techniques, LANAP procedures could remove as much infected tissue and plaque as traditional methods, but with less healthy tissue trauma. In the future, then, patients with advanced gum disease undergoing laser treatment could have less bleeding and discomfort and faster healing times.
If you would like more information on treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Gum Disease with Lasers.”
The American Diabetes Association has declared November National Diabetes Month. If you or a loved one has diabetes, you may already know that diabetes puts you at greater risk for gum disease. Let's look at four must-know facts about diabetes and gum disease.
#1. Gum disease is an acknowledged complication of diabetes.
High levels of blood sugar can interfere with your mouth's ability to fight infection, making you more susceptible to gum disease. People with poorly controlled diabetes may have more severe gum disease and may ultimately lose more teeth due to gum disease—in fact, one in five people who have lost all their teeth have diabetes.
#2. Gum disease makes diabetes harder to control.
Diabetes and gum disease are a two-way street when it comes to adverse health effects. Not only does diabetes increase the risk of gum disease, but gum disease can make diabetes harder to manage. Infections such as gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to rise. This is because chronic inflammation can throw the body's immune system into overdrive, which affects blood sugar levels. Since higher blood sugar weakens the body's ability to fight infection, untreated gum disease may raise the risk of complications from diabetes.
#3. You can do a lot to take charge of your health.
If you have diabetes and gum disease, you may feel as if you've been hit with a double whammy. While it's true that having both conditions means you are tasked with managing two chronic diseases, there is a lot you can do to take care of your health. Do your best to control blood sugar by taking prescribed medications, following a balanced diet, and exercising. In addition, pay special attention to your oral healthcare routine at home: Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day can go a long way in preserving good oral health.
#4. Preventing and managing gum disease should be a team effort.
We can work together to prevent, treat, and control periodontal disease. Come in for regular professional dental cleanings and checkups so we can monitor the health of your teeth and gums and provide specialized treatment such as deep cleanings when necessary. Diligent dental care can improve your oral health and help control your diabetes.
Remember, we're on your team. Let us know if there have been changes in your diabetes, your medication, or your oral health. If you have questions about diabetes and your oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”
What happens if you skip your dental hygiene appointment
You may not consider it uncommon to skip a routine hygiene appointment, but skipping just one appointment can have negative impacts on your oral and overall health even if you brush and floss regularly. Minor issues may go unidentified and become major issues, requiring more costly interventions. This is why dentists insist that routine hygiene appointments are essential to your oral and overall health. Generally, it is recommended that you have appointments every six (6) months, but this may vary from person to person. Your dentist can advise on the best routine.
When you skip your dental hygiene appointment, you risk plaque and tartar build-up, gingivitis, bad breath, and teeth discolouration. Missing a few appointments over more than 1-2 years risks gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and late diagnoses of possible oral cancer or diabetes, all of which will be much more costly to treat when identified later.
What happens at a dental hygiene appointment
A regular appointment will include a professional cleaning and a dental examination to ensure your teeth, gums, and surrounding area are in good health. This allows for the early identification and treatment of any issues before they become more serious. X-rays are not needed for every appointment, and your dentist will advise on this based on your overall oral health and history.
During the cleaning, your hygienist will:
• Remove built-up plaque and tartar that regular brushing and flossing miss and which can cause gum disease or decay;
• Polish and remove stains from teeth;
• Floss your teeth;
• Provide advise on brushing and flossing, especially any areas you have been missing
During the dental examination, your dentist will look for:
• Gum disease: gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, may be present even when your gums feel and look healthy. Without regular checks, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease which can lead to jawbone and tooth loss. Research shows that people with gum disease are more likely to have heart disease.
• Oral cancer: your dentist will screen you for oral cancer at each visit. This is especially important for patients who smoke and drink regularly.
• Diabetes: there is a link between oral health and diabetes and sometimes your dentist may be the first to identify a person is diabetic.
• Tooth decay: your dentist can treat tooth decay and help to prevent large cavities and bad breath from developing.
Contact Us today to schedule your dental hygiene appointment visit.
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