All About Lanap Laser Gum Surgery

There are many different areas of our day to day lives that have been improved by lasers. The treatment of periodontitis (aka gum disease) has been revolutionized by advances in laser technology. Laser gum surgery is a reasonably new procedure that is quickly amassing a reputation as one of the best ways to treat the disease.


To ensure our patients have complete peace of mind when they visit Dr. Choi, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to periodontitis and laser gum surgery for your convenience.


Dr. Choi and his team are more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding any aspect of your dental health. Feel free to give him a call at 214-592-0692 for a no pressure chat to see if laser gum surgery is the right treatment option for you.

WHAT IS PERIODONTITIS?

Periodontitis is the technical term for what is more commonly known as the second stage of gum disease. It is a degenerative condition that specifically attacks the soft tissues of the gums and the underlying bones that hold your teeth in place. Gum disease is mainly something that effects people in their 30’s and 40’s, but it can strike anyone of any age.

There are many causes of gum disease, some of the more common ones are:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes

However, despite there being several potential causes, poor oral hygiene is by far the most common cause of the disease. Plaque naturally builds up on our teeth over time. A proper dental hygiene routine removes this plaque before it becomes an issue.

If the plaque is not removed, the bacteria inside it multiply and cause what we know as gum disease. To further add to the complications, if plaque is not removed, it turns into tartar. Tartar has a rough surface which promotes the build-up of even more plaque. The cycle often continues getting progressively worse over time.

Many people who have gum disease are unaware that they have the condition at all. It is often painless, and discomfort resulting from the disease directly is uncommon. However, there is a long list of symptoms that can easily be spotted to diagnose the condition:

  • Receding gums
  • Gums that bleed when flossing or brushing
  • Swollen or reddened gums
  • A constant bad taste in the mouth
  • Sudden tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Halitosis (constant bad breath)
  • Loose or wobbly teeth
  • Pus generated from where the teeth meet the gum line


There are 3 stages to gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Each is more severe than the last.

When gum disease reaches the periodontitis stage, irreversible damage is being done to the body. The tissue that is holding the teeth in place (and the supporting bone structure) is being degraded and weakened. Indentations start to form at the bottom of the teeth. These indentations are food trap and promote plaque build-up beneath the gum line. At this stage, gum disease can only be treated by a dentist.

If left untreated, the gum disease can progress to advanced periodontitis which starts to create more severe issues. The damage that was being done to the tissue and bone is massively increased, and they are both now starting to be irreversibly destroyed. Teeth will become very loose, and tooth loss is usually immanent.

WHAT IS LASER GUM SURGERY / LANAP?

Laser gum surgery, aka Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP) is the latest treatment option for people with periodontitis. The inner workings of the procedure are highly complex, but here we will give a general overview of what patients can expect to take place:

STEP 1 – LASERS

The first step in the process aims to remove the bacteria that is located at the base of the tooth in question. This is done through the use of a high-powered dental laser with extreme precision. The laser is incredibly small and is the thickness of three human hairs. This precision allows for the dentist to only target the affected areas, minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

STEP 2 – ROOT SCALING

Once the dentist is able to access the root of the tooth, the scaling procedure can then begin. This allows the dentist to remove the plaque and tartar that has built up below the gum line (which is causing damage to the tissue and bone). This is conducted with a precision ultrasonic tool.


Once the dentist is confident that all the plaque has been removed, a smoothing procedure begins. This part of the process is aimed at reducing the amount of future plaque build-up that may occur by removing rough spots (that are inherently susceptible to build up). This greatly reduces the risk of future infection, provided that the patient maintains a proper dental hygiene routine.

STEP 3 – HEALING

Once the cleaning and smoothing have been completed, the dentist will seal the area that has been worked on. This is done with a laser to create a small blood clot using the stem cell containing blood that surrounds the area being worked on.

When complete, this clot creates a natural barrier, which will prevent germs and bacteria causing infection. After this has been done, the patient will be free to leave immediately. The non-invasive nature of LANAP means that minimal discomfort will be felt after the procedure.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS?

Traditionally, before laser gum surgery, there were two main methods dentists used to treat Periodontitis.

Scaling and root planing (commonly known as SRP) was one of the methods. This involves the dentist performing a thorough deep cleaning of the teeth, paying special attention to the areas uncovered by receding gums. This stops the build-up of plaque and tartar, and with a proper dental hygiene routine, can allow for regeneration of the gum tissue. This method can only be used in certain cases, in advanced stages of the disease it is often not a viable treatment option.

The other treatment method that is traditionally used is gum flap surgery. This is a surgical procedure that involves the dentist making incisions into the gums above each tooth. The dentist then cleans underneath the gum flap that has been cut, and re-attaches the gum. This procedure is much more invasive than SRP or LANAP and comes with a reasonably long recovery time. As such, gum flap surgery is reserved for the most serious stages of the condition.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LANAP?

The main reason that LANAP is causing such a storm in the dental world is because of the numerous benefits it provides over the other traditional methods of treating periodontitis. Here we will list just some (of the many) benefits patients can expect to receive.

LANAP DOES NOT REQUIRE GENERAL ANESTHESIA

Some of the other treatment options for the disease are much more invasive and can cause some discomfort. Due to this, general anesthesia has previously often been required when treating periodontitis.

Furthermore, due to the precision nature of LANAP causing minimal discomfort for the patient, general anesthesia is not required and a local anesthetic is used instead. This means that once the procedure is completed, you are free to go about your day as per usual (instead of feeling sluggish and sleepy). This makes it perfect for people who have busy schedules that need to be able to speak and function normally soon after the procedure.

DISCOMFORT IS MINIMIZED

When treating Periodontitis with LANAP, patients are exposed to much less discomfort during the procedure than would be experienced with traditional treatment options. The lack of cutting (that would be required for gum flap surgery) means no uncomfortable invasive sensations will be experienced during the procedure.

After the procedure, discomfort is also dramatically reduced. Because no incisions are being made during LANAP, the body is able to naturally heal quicker and easier. This results in much less swelling and bleeding than traditional treatment methods (although some bleeding and swelling is to be expected).

HEALING TIMES ARE REDUCED

Because the lasers are able to target the infected areas with pinpoint precision accuracy, the amount of damage that is done to tissue is drastically reduced compared to other surgeries. This combined with the fact that there are no incisions to recover from means that patients recover quickly. Patients who receive LANAP treatment are able to fully heal in time frames that in the past would have been impossible.

WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES TO LANAP?

We believe in complete transparency when it comes to our patients treatment options. We feel the need to make our patients aware of the information below.

As we mentioned at the very start of this page, LANAP is an incredibly new treatment option that is very much still in its infancy compared to other treatment methodologies. As such it is still not recognized by The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) as a proven method of treatment. They state on their website that:

“At this time, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that any specific laser wavelength is superior to the traditional treatment methods of the common periodontal diseases, such as periodontitis.”

Despite not being officially recognized by the AAP, there is no evidence to suggest that they are against the procedure that we are aware of. While recognition is seemingly a matter of time, the procedure is in our opinion is too new to get the AAP’s stamp of approval. Despite this, countless laser gum surgery procedures are conducted on a daily basis across the country, and evidence of success is growing by the day.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I THINK I MIGHT HAVE GUM DISEASE, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

WILL MY INSURANCE COVER LANAP?

HOW LONG DOES LANAP TREATMENT TAKE?

DOES LANAP HURT?

WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER LANAP?

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO RECOVER?

HOW MUCH DOES LANAP COST?

IS LANAP RIGHT FOR ME?

DOES IT MATTER THAT LANAP IS NOT RECOGNIZED BY THE AAP?

I’M NERVOUS, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

ARE DENTISTS TRAINED TO USE LASERS?

CONCLUSION

This concludes our comprehensive guide to treating periodontitis with laser gum surgery. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease, it is imperative that you contact Dr. Choi as soon as possible for him to conduct a full dental examination.

If you do have gum disease, Dr. Choi will then advise you on the severity of your condition and explain the different treatment options that are available to you.

Call Dr. Choi today at 214-592-0692 for a no pressure chat about how he and his team can help you, and your family have happy, healthy teeth and gums.