John C. Chao, D.D.S.

Research Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Ostrow School of Dentistry, USC

(626) 308-9104

News & Press

Save Teeth Without Surgery With In-Home Tray System

There is good news for those afflicted with gum disease. The FDA has cleared a new device, Perio-Protect, for the non-surgical treatment of periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because this disease is usually painless, it is generally not known to the patient. The following may be signs of gum disease:

  • gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
  • red, swollen or tender gums
  • bad breath that doesn't go away
  • pus between teeth and gums
  • front teeth growing out ("Long in the tooth") or gaps forming between the teeth.
  • Bite changing
  • Loose teeth

If you notice any of the above signs of periodontal disease, you should see your dentist immediately.

Treatment for mild periodontal disease generally consists of root planing (deep cleaning) to remove the bacterial deposits around and under the gum and oral hygiene instruction. Regular maintenance treatment at 3-, 4- or 6- month intervals may be recommended.

Traditional treatment for moderate or severe gum disease may, traditionally, include "osseous (bone) surgery," surgical debridement (removing infected tissue and plaque through a surgical approach), bone grafting to regenerate bone and connective tissue grafting to regenerate lost gum tissue.

In recent years the FDA has cleared certain pharmaceuticals and devices as being safe and effective in the treatment of gum disease when used according to manufacturer's recommendations. For gum infection at a specific location, time-release topical antibiotics can be used as a short-term treatment (approximately three weeks). These are not orally taken, but applied directly to the gums by the dentist for temporary relief of pain and infection.

For moderate or severe gum disease FDA has given clearance to a dental laser device (LANAP) that "targets" infection gum tissue. When the laser tip is inserted between the teeth and gum, this laser beam has a specific wave length that selectively "implodes" infected gum tissue, but leaves healthy tissue relatively unscathed. LANAP research data indicated to the FDA that gum tissues reattach back to the roots of the teeth as a result of the laser procedure. The benefit of this procedure is that it is minimally invasive, negating under certain circumstance the need for "flap" or "blade surgery."

In April, 2005, Perio-Protect received FDA-clearance to market an in-home treatment device that enables the patient to deliver on a daily basis antiseptics into "gum pockets" (deep crevices formed by bacterial activity). This custom-made, patented device is shaped somewhat like a thin, teeth-whitening tray. Its special design hydro-dynamically drives the antiseptic gel into all the crevices between the teeth, where mouth-rinses, flossing and brushing cannot reach. Combined with deep cleaning, Perio-Protect, used as recommended, is said to be safe and effective in treating periodontal disease in a non-surgical manner.

There is no one device, pharmaceutical or protocol that would be effective for everyone in all circumstances. A determination or recommendation by your dentist can only be made after a thorough examination and in-depth consideration of all relevant medical and dental history. However the choice of a particular method of treatment always belongs to the patient.

Recent studies (British Dental Journal, 2005, citing a study at UCLA) suggest that inflammation associated with gum disease is implicated in heart disease, thickening of the arteries, pre-term child-birth, respiratory diseases and even Alzheimer's. If you suspect you have gum disease, consult with our dentist as to what course of treatment is appropriate for you. Do not delay.

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