Ask the Warrior Dentist: Is There an Alternative to Gum Surgery?
Submitted by: Dr. Susan Wells
Gum surgery is often recommended by a dentist and required in situations where the patient experiences serious infection of the gums. The process to remedy gum disease is critically important, because gum disease is a significant risk to dental health. When the gums are not healthy it threatens to undermine the health of the teeth. Gum disease can also spread back away from the teeth into the jaw and other areas that are in the vicinity of the gums, and if that happens it can lead to all sorts of other health problems. So gum surgery can have a positive impact and help to prevent more problems down the road. But gum surgery can be expensive, painful, and time consuming. For that reason many of us want to know if there are alternatives to gum surgery.
The first step when considering alternatives to gum surgery is to look at prevention options, because if it is possible to prevent infection of the gums and gum disease, there is no need to have gum surgery. Sometimes the gums have already begun to show signs of trouble, for example, and there may be symptoms such as excessive bleeding, swelling, discoloration, or discomfort. But if caught soon enough and controlled by proper routine brushing and flossing, the gum problems can be reversed. So by doing a good job of basic dental hygiene – which includes visits to the dentist who can detect or predict any gum related issues that might be in the early stages – and by brushing and flossing every day, it is possible to avoid gum surgery.
But if surgery looks like it is inevitable, there is a highly advanced laser alternative available to the patient, and this can be done instead of conventional gum surgery. This process – known as laser periodontal therapy – accomplishes basically the same thing as normal gum surgery, but does not require all of the cutting into the gums, peeling them back away from the tooth, and then replacing them and stitching the wounds back together. What happens during laser therapy is that a highly concentrated laser or beam of intense energy is directed at the infected area of the gum. The pinpointed accuracy of the laser enables the dentist to target a section of the gum where the tooth and gum meet, and this critical area is so small that it can hardly be seen with the naked eye. By zapping it with the laser, the infection is destroyed and the harmful bacteria is stopped in its tracks before it can continue to spread to other parts of the gum tissue.
But with this periodontal laser therapy there is no cutting. Since no incisions have to be made to get past the gum and to the infected area, there are no stitches to heal, there is no bleeding to worry about, and there is only minor discomfort instead of serious pain associated with conventional gum surgery. The process puts the patient at less risk, it happens very fast, and then the wounded part – where the laser has essentially burned away the infection – is sealed.
About the Author: Dr. Susan Wells DMD has been a warrior dentist practicing dentistry in Warrior, Alabama since 1978. She treats patients for all aspects of general dentistry including preventive dental care oral hygiene instruction and full scale exams and cleanings. To find out more or book an appointment visit her site at http://DrSusanWells.com.
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