Treatment for Gum Disease

High-tech laser helps fight gum disease quickly, speeds healing.

Charles W Martin By Charles W Martin, DDS
Founder, DentistryForDiabetics.com

If you have diabetes or a family member with diabetes, you're familiar with the difficulty in healing that many people who have diabetes experience. That may have carried over into concerns about dental care. Many of my clients who first described themselves as dental phobic cited their healing problems as one of the issues that kept them out of the dental chair for an extended period of time.

But dentistry has come a long way and the rapid strides of the past decade have dramatically improved the technology and the techniques we use in the treatment for gum disease and other dental health problems.

One of the incredibly effective tools we're using these days is the laser. It makes dental care for gum disease almost a breeze. In addition, it benefits people who have elevated blood sugar because laser treatments usually heal more quickly. By using lasers in the treatment for gum disease we can avoid conventional surgery in nearly 75 percent of all cases. That's great news because conventional surgery can be painful as well as slow to heal.

Why is this technique so successful? The laser automatically seeks out diseased tissue and can distinguish between healthy gum cells and those that are infected by bacteria. I know that may seem unlikely but it's based on a very simple concept. The laser works on very specific wavelengths of light, keying in on the pigmentation that colors diseased gum tissue. The laser destroys the infected tissue and the bacteria at the same time. It doesn't touch the healthy gum cells. Beyond that it helps root surfaces regenerate. Gum tissue can close up the pocket that the bacteria developed around the root. That makes it harder for bacteria to form colonies in your gums and less likely that gum disease will get another start in that area of your gums.

Should You or Shouldn't You?

Many people are tentative about being treated with a laser and the debate over their use is often divided into "pro laser" and "anti laser" groups. Frankly that's too simplistic. Lasers can be a great tool to accomplish non-invasive dental treatment. The downside is that there are many lasers with different wavelengths and varying power levels used in dentistry. Using the wrong wave length or power can do damage, but that's unlikely with a dentist who is well-trained and skilled in using a laser. If you're considering laser treatment for gum disease, be sure you choose a dentist who is trained and knowledgeable in the use of lasers.

Still, if you have type 2 diabetes, laser therapy for advanced gum disease can help you break the connections between oral bacteria and high blood sugar symptoms. Once you've had successful treatment for gum disease and the inflammation in your mouth is gone, the body's immune system no longer has to fight gum disease. A great side benefit is that you may see a drop of as much as a point and a half in your A1C. For many people, that's enough to get them back to a normal blood sugar range.

For more information about dental care for people who have diabetes, visit http://www.dentistryfordiabetics.com and Dr. Martin's blog, http://www.dentistryfordiabetics.com/blog.

To learn more about the two-way connection between diabetes and gum disease, check out the other columns here on dLife or Dr. Martin's book, Don't Sugar Coat It.

Read Dr. Charles Martin's bio here.

Read more of Dr. Martin's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition. 

Last Modified Date: July 01, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...
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