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Healthy teeth start with healthy gums. Red and swollen gums may be a sign of periodontal disease, which leads to tooth loss and affects your smile, health, and overall looks. Treatment options for periodontal disease depend on the severity of the condition—with one of these options being laser gum surgery. Right now, laser gum surgery is being touted as more effective than traditional methods. 

Man in the dentist chair getting his teeth checked

But is it really?

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Types of periodontal disease range from gingivitis—which causes the gums to turn red and bleed easily—to chronic periodontitis—which is characterized by inflammation between supporting tissues and teeth. This leads to pockets that collect bacteria. Over time, this bacteria can cause attachment loss, destroyed gum tissue, and bone and/or tooth loss.

What Are the Causes of Periodontal Disease?

Bacterial plaque is one of the leading causes of periodontal disease. 

Other causes or exacerbating factors include pregnancy and hormone changes, stress, poor nutrition, genetics, tobacco use, diabetes, grinding your teeth, and certain medications.

What Are Some Traditional Treatment Options?

Scaling and root planing is one of the most trusted and traditional methods for treating periodontal disease. Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning of the spaces between the gums and teeth. This removes bacterial plaque and tartar—which causes the periodontal pockets around the teeth—and smooths the tooth and root so gum tissues can reattach. 

This treatment is not surgery, and gums are usually only sore for a couple of days at most. 

Pocket reduction surgery—or osseous surgery—is another option that involves folding back the gums to remove bacteria. The tissue is then secured back in place, and sometimes, the damaged bone is smoothed to limit areas where bacteria can hide.

What Is Laser Gum Surgery?

Laser technology is used to remove diseased tissue and bacteria from the gums. This allows the height of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth to be maintained. This surgery is less invasive but has limited success since the roots cannot be visualized to completely remove the bacterial plaque and tartar. It also does not allow for the smoothing of the bone to reduce the pockets around the teeth definitively. 

This treatment approach sounds appealing to many and may show some limited short-term improvement, but, in the long term, the success is very limited as the periodontal pockets return and the periodontal disease will continue causing damage.

Is Laser Surgery Better?

Even though laser surgery is being touted as a top treatment these days, there is really no evidence of that in any peer-reviewed journal. It has only shown to be as effective as scaling and root planing (deep cleaning).

Studies show similar results between laser treatment and other non-surgical options, including scaling and root planing. These results are certainly not as impressive as those achieved with pocket reduction surgery (osseous surgery). While laser gum surgery may be appropriate for specific individuals, it is not a be-all and end-all treatment. 

At the end of the day, traditional treatments are just as—if not more—effective for treating periodontal disease. Pocket reduction (osseous surgery) has been proven by multiple long term studies published in peer-reviewed journals as being the most effective method of treating advanced periodontal (gum) disease.

Interested in Learning More?

Periodontal disease is treatable, and many options are available to treat it. Traditional treatment options have long been studied and have shown measurable results. 

Some dental offices have hyped up laser gum surgery, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Call Dr. Afshin Salamati, DDS, to separate fact from fiction regarding laser gum surgery at (310) 275-1090. You can also fill out our online contact form.