Ask Dr. Brown: FAQs on Laser Periodontal Treatment
Who is a candidate for this laser treatment?
Almost everyone who has periodontal disease, swollen gingiva, or soft tissue lesions that require biopsies. The laser treatment is especially good for treating very advanced cases that are almost beyond conventional surgical treatment because the laser treatment can some times regenerate bone and soft tissue. It’s estimated that over 100 million American adults have moderate to severe periodontal disease. Of these, only 3-4 percent receive conventional treatment.
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Dr. Stephen Brown.
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How is periodontal disease normally treated nationwide?
The traditional treatment is to do deep scaling and root planing, and to use blades to cut the tissue and burs to grind the bone, and then suture it closed. This procedure works well but often causes considerable discomfort and appearance problems afterward, as well as root sensitivity.
What about patient discomfort, sensitivity, pain, and downtime?
Some of the primary patient benefits of laser treatment, as compared to using the blade and sutures, include much less pain, sensitivity, recession, swelling, and very little downtime after treatment. Generally, patients can go back to work the same day, if not sedated.
Does the new laser technique really regenerate soft tissue and bone?
Yes, that’s what’s remarkable about this technique. In an eight-year retrospective study, bone density profiles were evaluated and 100 percent of the areas had increases in bone density, and many had increases in bone quantity. In addition, a histologic study has shown new soft tissue attachment in two-thirds of the cases studied and new bone in 100 percent of the cases.
How can this treatment save teeth that could not be saved before?
The laser reduces the bacteria and bio-stimulates the cells to produce new attachment and bone.
How does the cost of laser treatment compare to conventional surgery?
Even with all the benefits, the cost of laser treatment is no more than conventional surgery. Insurance will often cover part of the cost, depending on the plan. When you consider that patients frequently lose two to three days of work time following conventional treatment, and there is a very minimum loss of work time with laser treatment, the cost of laser treatment is really much less than conventional treatment.
What happens to patients who go untreated for moderate to severe periodontal disease because of fear of conventional treatment?
This is a huge concern since only about three percent of the almost 100 million Americans who have moderate to severe periodontal disease are getting treatment. The bottom line is that they will suffer from painful abscesses and multiple extractions. Ultimately, they will lose all their teeth (approximately 40 million Americans are edentulous). They will lose their natural smile and are only able to chew about 20 percent as efficiently as with their natural teeth. The infection may get into the bloodstream, causing an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other serious systemic diseases. The infectious bacteria that cause periodontal disease are also often transmitted to spouses, significant others, and family members. This can all be avoided by reducing patient fear with laser treatment.
But my doctor said he’d have to pull my teeth because they are so loose and I don’t want to do that.
We have been able to save a lot of teeth that other dentists wanted to extract. We have had great success in saving such teeth in comfort and function for a long time. There is nothing better than preserving your own natural teeth. We are happy to schedule consultation to determine if LANAP is right for you.
I have previous x-rays. I don’t want to take them again. Can’t you utilize the ones I have?
We can usually use them if they are not poor copies and are less than 6 months old. The conditions of your mouth change rapidly, and in order to provide an accurate diagnosis, we will need current x-rays.
How much more is the laser? I’ve been told by my Periodontist that it is expensive.
The fees for laser treatment are comparable to the fees for conventional periodontal surgery. We do not increase the fees because we are offering new technology. Our fee has sometimes been less than offices using conventional periodontal surgery techniques.
How will I feel after the laser surgery?
You may experience some slight ache, throbbing or soreness. Dr. Brown will prescribe antibiotics, mild analgesics, and an antibacterial mouth rinse to take care of any discomfort you may experience. Our patients tell us they are amazed at how little discomfort they had.
How many appointments will I need?
Usually two treatment visits and a couple of post-operative visits. Dr. Brown will then prescribe ongoing, supportive treatment with a hygienist every few months, to maintain the results.
I only need a cleaning. That is all I have ever needed and had. Can the laser do cleanings?
Yes we do laser periodontal maintenance in the office. We must, however, determine the current level of your periodontal health. Then we will proceed with just the level of treatment you need.
Will my insurance cover this?
We do not use any special insurance codes because the treatment is delivered with a laser. We use the same codes that every office uses for comparable treatment.
Do you offer financing?
We offer Care Credit and other forms extended payments. It is a credit card for medical as well as dental services. It is easy to qualify for, and if you’d like, we can mail you an application. We are able to work with almost anyone’s budget for dental care.
How do I know this will work? I had surgery 4 years ago, and I now need it again.
Dr. I. Stephen Brown can answer all of your questions regarding treatment. We recommend a personalized consultation, so you can have all of your questions answered. You can meet Dr. Brown and his team and have a demonstration of the laser performed for you.
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