January 2015

Advancements in Treatment of Gym Disease

Author: Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS

My patient called me a day after her LANAP® procedure to let me know that she felt guilty, having taken a day off from work following her gum surgery. When I asked why, she replied, “Because, I had no pain or discomfort, and really could have gone back to work the next day—no problem!”

That is the type of comment I often hear from my patients following LANAP procedures.
LANAP stands for Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. This is a cutting-edge laser protocol to treat advanced gum disease called periodontitis. This treatment does not require cutting the patient’s gums with a scalpel, nor does it require any stitches. As my patient stated, most go back to their normal routine the very next day.

Periodontitis is a chronic infection of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth as well as a destructive infection of the bone that supports the teeth in the jawbone. A recent study sponsored by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed stunning results: The prevalence of periodontitis in the U.S. adult population was 47 percent, and the prevalence of this destructive disease jumped to 70 percent for those age 65 and older.

Not only is periodontitis an infection of the gum tissue and bone surrounding the teeth, it is an infection that can spread to many other areas of the body. Some of the signs and symptoms of gum disease might be bleeding, swollen, red or receding gums, as well as bad breath and loose or sensitive teeth. Unfortunately, a person may have this infection but might not encounter any symptoms. The infection could be so deep that symptoms, which may have been a problem many years ago, are no longer an obvious problem. The disease may have gotten so deep that all the typical symptoms have subsided. Yet the infection is still there, only much deeper. The ultimate result could be abscesses, pain, loss of teeth, and spread of infection throughout the body.

There are various ways to treat this infection, but diagnosis is the first and most important step. Without a thorough examination by a trained dental professional, a person may never know if he or she has this disease until it is too late and the teeth cannot be saved. Once an infection was properly diagnosed, treatment could have begun.

Usually, patient-friendly treatment consists of removing the causes of the disease and then assisting the body to repair the gum and bone structures. Critically important is teaching the patient to make nutrient-dense food choices over the unhealthy ones. Changing to a healthier lifestyle can be a determining factor for disease returning in the future or not.

For the first 35 of my 41 years as a periodontist, I performed traditional periodontal surgery. Results were good, but for my patients, the healing process was uncomfortable. For the last five-plus years, I have been providing my patients, who require treatment for gum disease, the better option of LANAP. The LANAP protocol kills the offending infectious bacteria without harming the healthy gum, bone, or tooth and assists the patient’s ability to grow new bone where there was diseased bone from the infection. In combination with healthy changes in food choices, the body now has the increased ability to heal itself. I’m incredibly pleased with the results. Most important, my patients are pleased because their gum disease has been treated more comfortably, and they have much better results than conventional gum surgery. 

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS is a periodontist and certified functional medicine practitioner at the Bluffton Center for Dentistry.

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