Periodontal disease is a growing epidemic in the adult population. A 2013 CDC report provided the following data related to prevalence of periodontitis in the U.S.: 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal Disease increases with age, 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.
I have had advanced training in periodontal disease--it's diagnosis, treatment, and prevention--and would have to say that with my trained eye it's closer to 80% of adults who have this disease.
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that causes the body to dissolve the bone around the teeth; the body can't get rid of the bacteria that have colonized on the tooth surface, so it's only option is to get rid of the teeth, hence, dissolve the bone and push out the whole tooth. These pesky bacteria causing the body to do this are resistant to anibacterials, antibiotics, and mechanical removal of them is difficult. However, they do have weaknesesses, and that is that they don't like oxygen and light. In fact, they are very susceptible and absorb the 940nm infared laser light, which is the diode laser I use in the dental office.
The cells of the body, on the other hand, benefit from the infared light of a laser. The laser gives a burst of light, which makes the cells energized. The laser actually causes them to produce more ATP, which is like adding more wood to a fire, causing the cells to burn brighter and hotter than they did before. This is really helpful when it comes to faster and better healing.
I have had the great opportunity to have a laser to supplement periodontal therapy and have found it to do exactly this--to accentuate what treatment I do and accelerate the healing.
I have had patients ask about laser treatment, what it is that I do, what it does to them, and if it hurts, so I have filmed videos demonstrating periodontal laser procedures.
This first video is showing laser bacterial reduction at the gumline. Before doing any treatment below the gumline, it's a good idea to kill the bacteria hanging around the gum surface so they aren't pushed into the tissue. The bacteria at and just below the gums are vaporized because of the heat and light of the laser. I don't even touch the tissue, just travel around the gumline of the whole mouth. Patients will only feel a slight bit of warmth:
Laser bacterial reduction done at the gumline can benefit anyone and will prevent colonization of bacteria for 4-6 weeks.
This second video is laser bacterial reduction below the gumline. It is usually done after mechanical removal of the bacterial colonies around the teeth. I will walk the tiny laser filament around the teeth below the gums, especially focusing on the hard to reach areas between the teeth. Patients will feel a slight bit of warmth and the tiny tip being moved from tooth to tooth but are not in any discomfort:
Laser curretage is a procedure that may also be done to trim off diseased tissue. If the diseased tissue is not trimmed it takes longer to heal, or may not completely heal, especially if there is deeper bone loss. This procedure is not always used, only with advanced disease. It is more comfortable using some form of anesthetic during this procedure as you are using a higher heat setting, but right afterwards there is little pain as the laser seals the lymph and blood vessels.
Not only is the laser helpful with gum disease and bacteria removal around the tissue, but the laser has many other uses as well and include:
Canker sore treatment
Cold sore treatment
Muscle and joint pain reduction
I hope you can see the benefit of lasers and why they are so helpful in a hygienist's hands.