About 30% of adults in the United States have gum disease. If you don’t treat it, you could lose your teeth. There are a lot of ways to treat gum disease, and using a laser is one of the most advanced and effective ones.
What causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection between the teeth and gums caused by bacteria. The bacteria in dental plaque make toxins, and when the plaque isn’t cleaned off the teeth, these toxins cause inflammation in the body.
In its most severe form, inflammation makes the gums red, swollen, sore, and bleed. This is probably what you know as gingivitis. If you don’t treat acute inflammation, it will turn into chronic inflammation, which is bad news. When there is chronic inflammation, the bone around the roots of a tooth breaks down. This is a case of gum disease. It is a break in the bond between the teeth and the jawbone that holds them in place.
How do Pockets work?
Periodontal disease causes pockets when the bone pulls away from the tooth’s root because of long-term inflammation and bacterial buildup. When we measure the gums, we can tell if there are pockets. This is sometimes called an “FMP,” which stands for “full mouth periodontal evaluation.” Your dentist or dental hygienist will measure the space between your teeth and gums with a tiny “ruler” that is marked in millimeters.
The space between healthy gums and teeth is only about 2 to 3 millimeters wide. In the early stages of periodontal disease, pockets are about 4–5 millimeters deep. In the late stages, pockets go all the way down the root of the tooth.
If you listen to the numbers that are called out during an FMP, you can tell how bad the gum disease is by how high the number is.
Periodontal disease can affect just one part of one tooth (localized) or it can affect every tooth in the mouth (generalized). Like any other disease that affects the body, periodontal disease is easier and cheaper to treat when it is caught early. Treatments also work better if they are done sooner rather than later.
How to Treat Infected Gums?
In the last section, we talked about how periodontal disease goes from acute inflammation to chronic inflammation if it is not treated. We want to stop inflammation as soon as possible. But in most cases, we don’t see patients until their periodontal disease has moved past the stage of acute inflammation.
If you have pockets that are deeper than 4 millimeters, your toothbrush and floss won’t be able to remove plaque buildup at the bottom of the pocket. This is why you need to see a dentist.
If your gums are infected, you have to treat the bacteria that caused the disease in the first place. You may have heard the term “deep cleaning,” which refers to the treatment done by a professional to get rid of all the bacteria that have built up in the pockets.
Instead of just removing plaque and tartar buildup from pockets by hand and hoping the body responds well, it is better to use a dental laser.
How Does a Laser Treat Infected Gums?
There are two important ways that dental lasers make pocket treatments more likely to work. First, bacteria die when exposed to laser energy. When we use a laser in a deep pocket, it kills all the bacteria that could cause disease and “sterilizes” the area. This gives your body a fresh start to start healing. It stops any more toxins from being made and lets the body stop the inflammatory process.
Laser energy also helps get rid of inflammation in the tissues. It helps stop the process of inflammation that is causing the jawbone to break down.
Lasers make gum disease treatments more effective because they target both what causes the disease and how the body reacts to it.
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