CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Many people cringe at just the thought of gum disease treatments.
It's often painful and takes weeks of appointments to complete.
A new superfine laser promises to make the process faster and more comfortable.
Sherry Cohen of Wynnewood, Pa., got two choices when she was told she had gum disease.
"I was told that I could have cutting which would be very painful and very long," she recalled.
In gum disease, or periodontitis, the gum and bone pull away from teeth, forming pockets which can collect debris and become infected.
To stop gum disease, it often takes deep cleaning called scaling, or surgery to open up infected gums.
But Sherry got an unexpected option.
"Or I could get this laser done. So I said I'll go for the laser," she says.
Periodontist Dr. Steven Brown uses the LANAP procedure - a minimally-invasive, laser-assisted gum regeneration.
He points a tiny laser beam -
"About the thickness of 3 human hairs," he notes.
- Down into the pockets of the gums.
The laser light is attracted to the colors of the bacteria there.
"Red, orange, yellow, and black," Dr. Brown says.
The LANAP procedure vaporizes bacteria and diseased tissue, then seals blood vessels and the pocket.
That protects it from new infection, and stimulates tissue around the tooth..
"It allows the healing from the bottom up, rather than the top down," he says.
Dr. Brown says LANAP cuts treatment time by at least half.
"We can do this in one sitting, sometimes, or two sittings," he says.
Shortly after her first session, Sherry was back at her office, pain-free.
"I went back, i did paper work," she recalled, smiling.
Dr. Brown says LANAP reverses the approach to gum disease.
"The traditional surgery is treating the effects of the disease. the laser is treating the cause of the disease," he says.
Because there's no blood loss, Dr. Brown says LANAP is a good for patients on blood thinners.
And it's good for diabetic patients, who often heal slower.
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