THE CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO NON-SURGICAL LASeR GUM TREATMENTS
A Comprehensive Non-surgical Laser Gum Treatment Consumer Guide As A Proven, Effective Alternative To Gum Surgery
By David L. Rodrick, DDS – Centennial, Colorado Laser Dentist
Welcome to this Non-surgical Laser Gum Treatment Consumer Guide. Thanks to advancements in dental lasers, people with gum disease now can opt for a non-surgical laser gum treatment as a safe, effective alternative to painful, invasive gum surgery. Most common in adults, gum disease is known as a “silent” disease because there’s usually no pain associated with the disease until it’s at an advanced stage. In the old days, there was only one way to treat moderate to severe cases of gum disease, and that was gum surgery. This surgical technique involves cutting the gums with a scalpel and pulling the tissues away from the jaw to gain access to dig out the diseased gum tissue. At the end of the procedure, the gums are stitched back together and the area remains very painful for several days before healing starts to occur and the patient can return to normal activities. With the introduction of dental lasers, non-surgical laser gum treatments are coming on strong as the treatment of choice for treating gum disease.
Gingivitis results in red, inflamed gums, and it’s a precursor to more advanced gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is described as a “swelling, soreness or infection of the tissue supporting the teeth.” There are two main types of gum disease —gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis usually happens before periodontitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. The gums get very swollen and red. They often bleed when they are brushed. Periodontitis disease is when the gums “inflame, causing shrinkage and loosening of the teeth.”
How Does Gum Disease Occur?
Gum disease occurs when tartar (calculus) and plaque build up on the surfaces of the teeth, and are not removed with regular teeth cleanings, and day-to-day care of the teeth. The tartar and plaque are made up of bacteria and food debris. The bacteria produce acid (lactic acid) that cause tooth decay and disease in the gum tissue. The body’s immune system tries to fight the bacteria by manufacturing enzymes to attack the bacteria, but in doing so; some of the enzymes destroy the body’s own bone and tissue in order to allow other enzymes to get to the bacteria to fight them. It is part of the immune response where the body swells and gum tissue becomes red from its own enzymes in order to fight the bacterial invaders. During gum disease, the gum tissue will look swollen and bleed very easily. Sometimes just brushing your teeth will cause the gums to bleed. There is also a difference in the color of the gums. When gum disease is present, the gum tissue will be a darker shade of red and if you press on the area, you might feel some tenderness or even pain. There are the four signs of infection: swelling, bleeding, redness, and pain – and you can see these signs in gum disease. Tartar and plaque stick to the surfaces of your teeth and when it hardens and becomes calculus, you need a dentist to remove it.
Gum disease is a silent disease that can result in tooth loss.
Laser Gum Treatments are an effective alternative to painful gum surgery.
What Are My Options For Treating My Gum Disease?
Option 1: Traditional Gum Surgery
Laser gum surgery is the tradition (and very painful) way of treating gum disease by surgically cutting out the diseased tissue with a scalpel. During the surgery, patients must be under general anesthetic because the procedure is very painful and invasive. The periodontist or general dentist cuts into the gums to get to the bacteria and diseased tissue, which is scraped and cut out. Unfortunately, healthy gum tissue has to be destroyed as part of this procedure. Bleeding during the surgery is common, as is inflammation of the gum tissue. Sometimes, bone grafting is needed as part of the process. With bone grafting, the surgeon typically adds synthetic bone and places in the area of lost bone to act as a catalyst for new bone growth. The results of this procedure are unpredictable. Sometimes new bone grows back and sometimes it does not depending on the surrounding bone and the location of the defect next to the tooth root. Bone loss around teeth is caused by high calculus accumulation that destroys the bone little by little until the tooth has to be extracted. “Once bone has been lost, the calculus deposits need to be removed to prevent further loss of bone.” This is when the traditional gum surgery is used. The gums may be shorter after cutting the healthy tissue. That may cause tooth sensitivity because more of the tooth is exposed, and it may not look esthetically good. Prescription pain medication following gum surgery typically is needed. The cut tissue must be stitched, and it takes weeks for patients to heal, particularly if bone grafting was needed. Only one side of the mouth is treated at a time because so many dental injections are required to treat those areas.
What Are The PROs of Traditional Gum Surgery?
- Removes calculus
- Eliminates periodontal disease
- Repairs and generates bone
- Facilitates good mouth hygiene
What Are The CONs of Traditional Gum Surgery?
- Compromises the person’s smile: The shape of the gums may change because more of the tooth structured is exposed.
- Gum recession: There may be sensitivity to hot and cold due to the gum recession.
- Decay: Decay also may develop
- Invasive and painful: Prescription medication is usually needed.
- Removes healthy tissue: Healthy tissue needs to be cut and removed in order to remove the unhealthy tissue.
- Bleeding: An invasive surgery like this results in lots of bleeding
- Time Off Work: Down time from work necessary
- Can’t Eat Solid Foods: A diet of soft foods is recommended for several days
What’s The Cost of Traditional Gum Surgery?
The cost of traditional gum surgery is between $300-$750 per quadrant (one quarter of combined dental arches; there are 4 quadrants–upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right). If bone grafting is needed: add $600-1200 per quadrant.
Is Traditional Gum Surgery covered by Insurance?
Yes, if it is considered medically necessary by the insurance company, not a cosmetic procedure. “If the gum surgery is considered a dental procedure, some of the costs may be covered by standard dental insurance.”
Option 2: Non-Surgical Laser Gum Treatment
The second and more modern option for treating gum disease is non-surgical laser gum treatment. A non-surgical laser gum treatment is a minimally invasive procedure that is much safer and less painful – and the patient heals much faster. Non-surgical laser gum treatments use laser light to selectively remove the diseased, inflamed gum tissue, and leave the healthy gum tissue alone. No cutting is necessary, and there’s very little bleeding. Laser gum treatments are performed without pulling the gum tissue back away from the jaw. This non-surgical gum treatment also uses the laser light to seal the blood vessels and nerve endings during the procedure. This is critically important because it significantly reduces pain after the procedure and allows patients to return to normal activities immediately afterward. The other improvement is the laser’s ability to kill bacteria on contact. This leaves the treated area free of bacteria which promotes more rapid healing of the treatment area. The laser softens calculus (tartar) and makes it easier to remove. The wonderful part of having laser gum treatment is that you are able to return to normal activities immediately. Because of the laser’s ability to seal blood vessels and nerve endings, it virtually eliminates bleeding and pain during and after the procedure is finished. No anesthesia is required. Recovery starts immediately. The pain after the procedure is minimal and short (usually in 2 days or less). There is no need for medication.
What’s The Process of Getting A Laser Gum Treatment?
1. First of all, radiographs (x-rays) are taken to evaluate how much bone is left around the teeth. You also can see if calcified plaque is covering the root surfaces.
2. Next, measurements of the pocket depths, that record how much bone has been lost around the tooth root, are taken painlessly with a plastic probe with a rounded tip. Higher numbers mean the pockets are deeper and more bone has been lost. Two- and three-millimeter pocket depths are normal. Four-millimeter pocket depths are the early stage of gum disease, and five- and six-millimeter pockets need to be treated as soon as possible. With eight- or nine-millimeter pockets, you risk losing these teeth because of too much bone loss.
3. If it’s determined that a laser gum treatment is needed, the patient lies comfortably in a dentist chair. Again, no anesthesia is needed. The laser tip is placed in the pocket and only the diseased tissue is removed with laser light along the inside lining of the gum pocket. The energy of the laser selectively removes only the darker diseased tissue. At the same time, bacteria in that area are destroyed and the calcified plaque (calculus) on the surface of the tooth is loosened from its attachment to the teeth by the laser light. Another benefit at this time is the laser energy is also contacting the surface of the tooth to reduce future root sensitivity. This is done by the lasers ability to seal the dentinal tubules in the root that cause sensitivity.
4. The next step is using the laser to remove the calculus (calcified plaque) on the root surfaces. The laser dentist uses a low setting on the laser and water is used to help the laser wash away the calculus once the laser loosens it.
5. Now an ultrasonic scaler is used to mechanically remove any other areas that the laser could not remove. This instrument uses sound waves to vibrate away the calculus (calcified plaque) deposits and is an additional step to improve the cleaning process. Sometimes hand instruments are necessary to smooth off these areas.
6. This step uses the laser again on an even lower setting to remove any “smear layer” (layer of bacteria and debris) left behind on the root surface after the steps above.
7. Finally the laser is set to another setting that causes the tissue to coagulate for better healing. During this step, the laser is eliminating any remaining bacteria or toxins from between the gum tissue and the root surface. This step also helps to form clotting in the area that will later form fibers that will help your healing tissue to re-attach to the tooth to seal out bacteria and debris.
8. This entire laser gum treatment is done without the need for anesthesia or dental injections. If the patient has any area of discomfort, it is possible to spray some topical anesthesia in that particular area to control any discomfort. In our experience, this is rarely needed but is available if the need arises.
9. All these steps will create an environment that will promote healthy bone to grow back and also healthy tissue to grow into the areas where the diseased tissue was removed.
How Many Visits Are Needed For Non-surgical Laser Gum Treatments?
Usually only one visit is necessary. If the bone loss is more severe additional appointments may be necessary. Approximately a one-hour appointment is all the time it takes
What Are The PROS of Laser Gum Treatments?
- A Pain-free Procedure: Laser gum treatments are virtually pain free. That means you certainly don’t need general anesthesia.
- No general anesthesia needed. The patient is fully awake during the procedure and does not get any chemicals injected into the body. No Need for Injections: There are no injections with this procedure, which is great for “scaredy-cats” who hate needles.
- No Cutting or Sutures: There’s not cutting or suturing involved with this procedure. As a result, the body heals faster.
- Healthy Gum Tissue Is Left Intact: There’s no need to destroy healthy tissue along with the diseased tissue.
- Both Sides of the Jaw Can Be Treated During The Same Visit: This is because there’s no need for injections. There’s only so much numbing agent that should be injected into the body at one time. That’s why traditional gum surgery can only be done one side at a time.
- Bacteria Reduction: The laser kills bacteria on contact. This reduces the chances of infection remaining in the gum tissue.
- Reduction of Tooth Sensitivity: The laser gum treatment does not cut the gums so there are not open areas on the gums, like what occurs with traditional gum surgery. When roots are exposed because gums have receded, or have been cut, it increases tooth sensitivity. Laser gum treatments help keep gum tissue in place so they can protect the roots of the teeth.
- Safe for Everyone: Laser gum treatment procedures are safe for everybody, because it simply involves the use of laser light to perform the procedure. This treatment is ideal for healthy people, as well as those suffering from diabetes, hemophilia, HIV, or medicated patients.
What Are The CONs of Non-surgical Laser Gum Treatments?
There are only a few dental lasers on the market that provide laser gum treatment and only a limited number of periodontists and dentists that are trained on these new techniques.
What Does A Non-Surgical Laser Gum Treatment Cost?
When learning about the tremendous benefits of non-surgical laser gum treatment, and the new technologies that are applied, many people mistakenly assume the process is expensive. Actually, the cost of a non-surgical laser gum treatment is much less expensive than traditional gum surgery. The average cost of a non-surgical laser gum treatment per quadrant (one quarter) varies from $175-$300, depending on what individual laser dentists choose to charge.
Are Non-surgical Laser Gum Treatments Covered By Insurance?
Yes. Non-surgical laser gum treatments are usually covered by dental insurance. The laser dentist can send in a preauthorization to your dental insurance to make sure it is covered. This process usually takes just about two weeks for pre-authorization.
If gum disease is not addressed and treated, patients can lose their teeth.
How Do I Know If I Need A Laser Gum Treatment? What Are The Signs That I Need A Laser Gum Treatment?
There are specific signs that will tell you if you have gum disease and need a laser gum treatment. Here’s a list of questions to ask that will help you know if you have gum disease and need a laser gum treatment:
- Do you notice any swollen spots on your gums?
- Do your gums regularly bleed when you floss or brush?
- Do you have loose teeth that seem to be moving?
- Do you have uncontrollable bad breath?
- Do you have redness or gum sensitivity?
- Is chewing painful?
- Are your teeth sensitive?
- Are your gums receding or do you teeth appear to be getting long?
If you answered yes to many of these questions, it’s highly likely you have gum disease. As a reminder, gum disease is a silent disease that doesn’t manifest aggressive symptoms until the late stages of the disease. To protect and save your teeth, it’s best to catch gum disease early in the process, and get it treated.
How to Choose A Laser Gum Treatment Dentist
There are many ways to find a quality laser dentist who can perform non-surgical laser gum treatments.
1) Ask friends, neighbors, and family about a qualified laser dentist who performs non-surgical laser gum treatments in your area.
2) Google “Laser gum treatment” plus the city in which you live. Example: Laser Gum Dentist Centennial, Colorado
3) Research the dentists you find and investigate the dentist’s experience in non-surgical laser gum treatments. Look at their years of experience performing this procedure, and the quality of their laser equipment.
4) Contact the laser dental office, ask to visit the office and meet the laser dentist, get an exam on the condition of your gums, and consult with the laser dentist on how laser gum disease can solve your gum problems.
Laser Gum Treatment Consumer Guide Summary
Gum disease is a silent disease that can harm the health of your teeth and result in losing teeth and needing dentures or implants. The traditional treatment for gum disease – traditional gum surgery – is both expensive, very painful, and has significant drawbacks. In contrast, non-surgical laser gum treatments, performed by a qualified laser dentist, offer a pain-free, effective, and affordable alternative to gum surgery. Non-surgical laser gum treatments get results, require no anesthesia, cutting, or injections, and your gums are treated and healed using the power of laser light from a dental laser.
Dr. David Rodrick is an expert general & laser dentist in Centennial, Colorado.
About Dr. David Rodrick, Expert Laser Dentist in Centennial, Colorado
Dr. David Rodrick has 30 years of experience as a dentist, and has been offering laser dentistry since 2003. He has a passion for making patients relax, and helping solve their dental problems using effective, comfortable laser dentistry equipment and techniques. He offers:
- General dentistry services
- Laser dentistry services
- Root canals
- Non-surgical Laser Gum Treatments
- Cosmetic dentistry & implants
- Teeth whitening
- Non-surgical Laser snoring treatments…and more.
Dr. Rodrick is both an expert general dentist, and is one of the leading laser dentists along Colorado’s Front Range. He was one of the first dentists to offer laser dentistry in Colorado. He earned an Associate Fellowship in Laser Dentistry by the World Laser Clinical Institute, and he also has completed extensive continuing education using “Fotona” dental lasers. In addition to his 30 years of experience in dentistry, Dr. Rodrick has completed close to 300 hours of continuing education in laser dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, laser endodontics (root canal therapy) and dental implants. Dr. Rodrick is a member of, and also has earned an associate fellowship (only awarded to those dentists in the organization who routinely perform a substantial number of cases per year) in ASIRD (American Society of Implant and Reconstructive Dentistry). In 2005, he received an award from Nobel Biocare for excellence in dental esthetics.
In 2015, he was the first dentist in the state of Colorado to learn and perform a non-surgical laser snoring treatment known as NightLase™. Dr. Rodrick was born and raised in northern Illinois. In 1977, he moved to Denver and attended the University of Colorado at Denver – graduating in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He then attended the University of Colorado School of Dentistry and graduated as a general dentist in 1984. In 1985, he opened a laser dentistry practice in Centennial, Colorado.
Dr. Rodrick has a passion for laser dentistry for many reasons: “I am passionate about laser dentistry for so many reasons. First, laser dentistry truly offers the best quality of dental treatment available, with the least possible amount of discomfort for my patients. Second, by offering laser dentistry that’s more comfortable and effective, it keeps my patients coming back regularly to care for and maintain their teeth,” he said. “I am passionate about educating consumers about the benefits of non-surgical laser gum treatment for people with gum disease. Why? Non-surgical laser gum treatments offer significant benefits for patients, including no surgery, no anesthesia, no pain, and with recovery that’s virtually immediate,” he said. “Thanks to dental lasers and the availability of non-surgical dental lasers, there is no reason for people with gum disease to have to undergo surgery, be in pain and on painkillers for weeks, and to have to recover over the course of many weeks. Non-surgical laser gum treatments are the way of the future, yet they are proven, effective, and affordable.”
For information on Non-Surgical Laser Gum Treatments in Denver, Englewood & Centennial, Colorado, and Colorado’s Front Range, please contact the dental practice of: David L. Rodrick, DDS, Experts in Laser Dentistry, in Centennial, Colorado: 303.793.0793, or visit www.DrRodrickDDS.com.