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How the LANAP protocol aids in treating gum disease and reducing patients’ risk for developing other harmful diseases.
Nearly half of U.S. adults ages 30 and older suffer from periodontitis, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the Journal of Periodontology in 2015. While less severe cases can be treated with scaling and root planing, advanced cases require surgical treatment.
Many surgical treatments are costly and invasive, resulting in post-operative discomfort and additional follow-up appointments. However, patients now have another option.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of the LANAP® protocol to treat gum disease by regenerating bone and tissue. The LANAP protocol is said to be the only laser-based gum disease treatment with the proven ability to regenerate alveolar bone, periodontal ligament and cementum lost to disease. By using the PerioLase MVP-7, an optimized free-running ND:YAG laser from Millennium Dental Technologies, clinicians are able to target the source of the inflammation without hurting or removing any healthy gum tissue.
“LANAP is laser-based,” says Dr. Robert H. Gregg II, DDS, co-founder of Millennium Dental Technologies and president and chairman of the board. “It’s no cut, no sew. There are no sutures, no cutting of the gums. There’s no gum recession involved because we remove no gum tissue. That’s a huge positive for patients to not have to cut gum tissue away.”
Dr. Gregg says the LANAP protocol requires fewer appointments, which appeals to patients who are hesitant to take off time from work.
“Patients have three visits with LANAP versus 10 with conventional surgery. We do half of the mouth during the first visit, a week later we do the other half and then a post-op. Then it’s just routine maintenance,” he says.
“Conventional treatment is usually four separate appointments of scaling and root planing and a post-op visit, then four separate appointments for surgery and a post-op. It’s a huge imposition to go through that. That’s one of the reasons patients don’t follow through.”
One of the key benefits of the LANAP protocol, Dr. Gregg notes, is that patients who receive treatment aren’t prescribed any opioids.
“We have a protocol and from the beginning the protocol stipulated anti-inflammatories only, antibiotics only, that was it. To this day, we use Motrin for anti-inflammatory purposes. We don’t have a recommended regimen for opioids at all. The patients don’t need it because they’re not in any pain,” he says.
Almost anyone is eligible for treatment, Dr. Gregg says, including patients who are suffering from the most advanced stages of gum disease. Recovery time is a few hours compared to many days or even weeks of recovery with conventional surgery, he notes. Dentists who are interested in offering the LANAP protocol at their practices receive comprehensive, hands-on training from world-renowned periodontists and experts in the field.
“There are all of these associated consequences of gum disease,” Dr. Gregg says. “It seems like I read something about it every week. It affects the heart, it causes strokes, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s. I just read this week that it inhibits conception in women. It seems like there’s nothing it doesn’t affect. There’s no excuse for a patient not to seek out this treatment.”
Dr. Gregg says being able to treat patients in this manner is often a life-changing experience.
“It’s profoundly satisfying and rewarding as a professional – and everybody wins,” he says. “It costs less for the patient, it’s a new revenue stream for GPs, and it’s a big revenue boost for periodontists because we only get about 30 percent treatment acceptance and this jumps it up to 90 percent. … We can treat the most severe, advanced cases of the disease that not even I would have dared to treat conventionally.”