Posts Tagged ‘periodontitis’

Gum Recession: the How and the Why

How do people end up with recessed gums? Gum recession is a common result brought about by gum disease  (or its more advanced stages of gingivitis and periodontitis) and abrasive over-brushing (brushing your teeth too harshly too often with the wrong brush). Perhaps poor dental work in the past has caused an imbalance in the mouth, possibly a bite malfunction that has, over time, negatively affected occlusal (bite) functionality.

As a side note, yes, even slight imbalances in bite mechanics can cause long-term diseases and vulnerabilities that seem unrelated. That’s why holistic dentistry is so important: we get to the root of the problem, considering the whole patient. If you try treating gum recession without first considering the possibility of TMJ problems, mercury poisoning and tissue rejection from amalgam fillings, or miscalculated restorations, you may only have to do it again, with poorer results each time.

So why is gum recession a problem? Recessed gums weaken and loosen the roots of teeth, exposing the vulnerable parts to physical injury and infectious bacteria. Gum recession sets the stage for tooth decay and tooth loss. Practicality aside, bad cases of gum recession are not aesthetically pleasing and may cause patients to be self-conscious.

In my next post, I’ll talk a little bit more about the Pinhole Surgery Technique (PST) by Dr. Chao that’s used to correct gum recession without surgery.

What about you? Have you had any experience with gum recession, or do you know someone else who has? News of this Pinhole Surgery Technique may be a welcome relief, then… or maybe something you wish your dentist knew a long time ago.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles


LANAP Dental Laser Protocol

LANAP stands for Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure. It is a special protocol taken when treating patients with a dental laser. The LANAP method is designed not only so the need to cut into tissue is eliminated, but also so it biostimulates the body’s regenerative properties so that healing is quicker and completely natural. Dental lasers are mostly used for treating varying stages of gum disease, but can be applied to other procedures as well, such as implants or anything involving soft tissue.

Traditional invasive cutting, reshaping, and suturing when treating severe gum disease causes a lot of pain, bleeding, and slow healing. Treatment with a dental laser is gentle enough that it may allow you to go back to work the very next day! Lasers in dentistry are about as cutting-edge (pun intended) as technology gets right now, and the results are extremely satisfying for patients.

This video is a quick demonstration of the LANAP gum disease treatment process. It is animated, so the squeamish in the audience need not fear any gore. Seeing how it works will help you understand what goes on beneath the gums where you can’t see, and also why it is so important to proactively keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

Dental Laser Therapy for Periodontitis — What to Expect

There are different degrees of gum disease. Sometimes it’s mild, manifesting itself as soft tissue swelling, redness, or sensitivity. Other times it’s severe, probably a case that has been neglected too long. Recessed tissues, deep pockets, extreme pain, bad tastes/smells, and an ongoing infection are indicative of periodontitis.

If you have been diagnosed with periodontitis, your level of treatment will depend on the severity of your case. Obviously, mild cases will heal up quickly if you receive prompt treatment and you take care of yourself. A more serious condition of gum disease could take months to properly recover from. Diseased gums that have shrunken and shriveled off teeth need time and a clean, clean environment in order to grow back and fit snugly around them again.

Conventional periodontal therapy/surgery is effective but invasive. In order to remove diseased tissue, parts of the gums and teeth may be simply cut out instead of treated. Ironically, this kind of treatment leads to a longer, harder recovery and can weaken oral health permanently. Risk of mistakes on the dentist’s part increase as well.

In a holistic practice, however, where a laser is used in conjunction with ozone gas, surgery is almost never necessary. Dental laser wavelengths can be calibrated, in a sense, to perform many different functions ranging from gentle cleaning of diseased tissue — without damaging normal tissues in the same area — to cutting and reshaping of tissue. It is completely non-toxic and much less painful than regular slicing and dicing because of its inherent cauterizing properties. Bacteria cannot survive under a laser’s beam, so the process of sterilization is furthermore simplified, especially with additional blasts of ozone gas. Not to mention, recovery is faster and smoother because of minimal intervention and blood flow stimulation.

Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease. During an initial inspection of your periodontal health, the degree of the disease will be evaluated and your individual prognosis will be determined. You’ll be instructed on the steps you must take in order to heal. At your appointment, your mouth and teeth will be cleaned and thoroughly prepared so the environment is in the best possible shape for a temporary “construction zone.”

At the site of treatment, the gum pocket(s) will be separated from the tooth with an instrument, and the laser will be used to clean away the infection and dead/decaying parts of the tooth and gums. All exposed surfaces of the tooth and gums are prepared to bond together again so healing may occur. Blood clotting stimulation may be administered to further speed up healing. The process is quite speedy; most cases can be taken care of in a single appointment and may also leave the patient in conditions good enough to return to work the next day.

As always, however, the best cure for a disease or infection is prevention in the first place. My laser adds a fantastic element of superior dental care to this practice, but as the patient, preventing gum disease by yourself in the first place is the best route to take.

Happy flossing!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

A Dental Laser for Treating Gum Disease

I recently purchased a PerioLase dental laser. It’s a fabulous tool.

Periodontitis, or gum disease, happens when a bacterial infection develops between the teeth and gums. Naturally, gums are supposed to fit around the teeth snugly. A shallow pocket, however, does exist between healthy teeth and gums, one that should not be deep, painful, or swollen.

The presence of these pockets is why it’s so important to floss. Too many people are lazy about flossing and/or irrigating. The truth is that food will get stuck in those pockets and literally rot right there in your mouth. Pathogenic bacteria will find that leftover food and feast on it. Unfortunately, surrounding tissues are victimized as well while the body’s immune system tries to eliminate the infection. Oral sensitivity, pain, and bad smells will ensue. It sounds disgusting because it is. So floss!

Treating periodontitis traditionally has required incisions and stitches; that means pain and bleeding. Surgical methods of gum disease therapy are still the norm. The vast majority of dentists don’t care for the cost and training involved in adding a laser to their practice. Their reasoning is that it cannot completely replace a drill, so why bother?

The beauty of laser therapy is that it is clean, quick, and virtually painless. There is little to no need for anesthesia (which, if needed, would be local) and it yields great results. One laser can be adjusted to different strengths for different uses. I’ll go over that and how we’d apply it to real-life situations in the next post.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

Healthy Gums, Healthy Body

Lately, numerous amounts of questions have arisen on the topic concerning the connection between oral health and overall health. Does the former really affect the latter? How is someone possibly at risk for heart disease or low birth weight babies if the apparent problem is only in his/her mouth?

Our bodies are not a jumble of different mechanisms forming one walking, talking unit. Each of the body’s systems — the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system, etc. — work in unison to keep us living in steady homeostasis! If one system fails or malfunctions, it gradually leads to another system losing its ability to function properly, and it spirals downward from there.

Inflamed parts of your body can lead to further inflammation or infection in other parts. Periodontitis is the body’s response to harmful bacteria left in your mouth. Periodontitis — ahem gum disease, if severe enough and untreated long enough, will, in fact, set off other inflammatory mechanisms in your body, leading to such things as diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease, and preterm and low birth weight babies. And gum disease is common — it can happen to anyone.

Don’t ignore the significance of this link. Good oral hygiene is serious!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles