For many years, serious periodontal problems were treated with conventional or traditional surgery (cutting, sutures, flaps) which were often painful, time-consuming, and presented problems for patients on certain medications. About 10 years ago, the FDA approved a laser treatment called LANAP or Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure, which revolutionized periodontal care. Since then, approximately 300-400 periodontists have begun using the procedure, and have administered care to a very large patient population around the United States and Canada.
There are several advantages to an FDA cleared laser protocol. Laser surgery typically results in a more predictable clinical response than traditional surgery. The healing response is several weeks ahead of traditional surgery, with minimal post-operative discomfort. Also, in many clinical situations, many questionable teeth have been retained that might have been extracted using just traditional techniques. Even if extractions have to be performed, the laser treatment enhances a clinically faster healing response than traditional extractions.
Laser treatment does not require patients to stop using prescribed blood thinners, cardiac medications, and other systemic medications. Using traditional surgical techniques, these medications often had to be stopped for several days before and after the surgery. This elevated the health risk to patients. The laser approach makes the process quicker, safer, and easier from a medical point of view.
Unlike traditional periodontal surgery, laser periodontal surgery cases often require only one visit. In many clinical settings, this laser periodontal surgery produces better clinical outcomes than traditional surgery done in multiple visits. Periodontal disease is often treated in patients prior to cardiac bypass surgery, stent procedures, prosthetic replacements (hips and knees, for example), chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and many other medical conditions. Laser treatment can done with a minimum amount of trauma and inconvenience prior to these other medical procedures.
In conclusion, in the practices in which it is used, an FDA-cleared laser protocol has become the treatment of choice for approximately 80% of periodontal disease cases, with great benefit to patients.