A new treatment may be coming to a dental practice near you, and it could save you a lot of pain when it gets here. Until recently, patients suffering from halitosis (or bad breath) due to periodontal disease or gum inflammation were limited in what they could do to eliminate the condition.
But a recent development could change all that – and it comes in the form of a very high-tech new device.
"It’s a new laser treatment, and it can actually destroy oral bacteria through tissue in the mouth without destroying the tissue," says Dr. Gary Lederman, a dentist in Bellmore, New York.
That’s big news for patients with periodontal diseases such as periodontitis or gingivitis.
"Currently, the treatment for repairing damaged tissue and eliminating bacteria is removing gum tissue surgically," says Lederman.
Unfortunately, that often means taking some healthy tissue out with the damaged tissue - as well as a somewhat painful and lengthy recovery period.
"Nobody looks forward to getting gum tissue removed, and some people even avoid it," says Lederman. "That leaves the mouth vulnerable to the problem getting a lot worse in the meantime."
As for the new technology, Lederman says lasers are nothing new to dentistry. They are already being deployed for everything from gum-contouring procedures to cosmetic tooth-whitening procedures. This new laser is just the latest in a long line of products designed to make dentistry faster, more efficient and a lot less painful.
In fact, though it’s not widely available, patients who have tried the laser say it is virtually painless - something that Lederman says is a major bonus for patients and dentists alike.
"Any time you can treat a patient with little to no pain, that’s a win for everyone because they are more likely to elect to have that treatment and take control of their oral health," he says. "It benefits the dentist because we want to see our patients healthy, and nobody wants to be the bad guy and cause pain."
In addition to killing those nasty bacteria and keeping bad breath at bay, the laser can also help in the healing of painful oral lesions and ulcers. In fact, one study found that these problems were healed almost immediately following treatment.
"There is new dental technology every month, and as much of it becomes more widely available, it will hopefully start to change the impression many people have of the dental chair," says Lederman.