How Effective is LANAP Laser Gum Surgery?

For our patients with gum disease, we get a lot of questions about the LANAP technology we use, and how it compares to more traditional treatments.

How effective is it? How does it work? These are good questions, and some of the answers are actually in the name of the procedure, LANAP. It stands for Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure, and the “new attachment” is referring to is the way the laser treatment encourages the attachment of healthy gum tissue to bone in your jaw and mouth. That’s really important in the treatment of periodontal, or gum, disease, because the progression of gum disease means parts of your gums become infected, damaging the normal attachments and loosening your teeth. To learn more about gum disease, see our blog on gingivitis and its treatment.

Reversing this problem during periodontal treatment is traditionally done over a long period of time, relying on natural gum healing in many cases. When we use LANAP to assist in gum disease treatment, the laser stimulates healthy gum tissue to create those new attachments and improve the overall healing of your gums at a faster rate. At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we’re proud to say we’re LANAP certified, so you can be sure you’re being treated by experienced, qualified dental professionals, using the most current laser technologies available.

LANAP for Gum Surgery

During osseous surgery, the traditional way to treat advanced periodontal disease, the dentist uses scalpels to cut diseased gum tissue away and reach any infected pockets in your bone or gums, then remove them surgically. Afterwards, sutures are used to reshape the gums around the teeth without the pockets. This is usually an effective procedure, but it does have a long recovery time, is much more invasive, and can be expected to result in pain and discomfort during healing.

What LANAP does instead is eliminate diseased gum tissue (distinguishable from the healthy tissue because it’s darker) with a highly specific light frequency. The laser also kills any bacteria present in the mouth, which helps speed healing and encourages new tissue growth in addition. Both the removal of diseased tissues and the restoration of healthy tissue are done with less trauma to the gums and a better path toward healing.

Effectiveness of LANAP

Studies on LANAP procedure show positive results, such as less tooth loss after laser surgery, as compared to traditional surgery. It also has been shown to increase new tissue attachments between gum and bone after treatment, and aid in gum regeneration for periodontal patients.

There’s also good news on the long-term success of LANAP for gum disease. Patients who have LANAP done show less recurrence of their periodontal disease over time compared to patients who are treated with traditional methods like osseous surgery. This is for several reasons; the laser gets rid of bacteria that cause gum disease, and the improved tissue regrowth means that the bone and roots of teeth are better protected from future disease. We also find that LANAP patients have an easier time succeeding with the home dental care regimens they need to follow to prevent future gum disease, because the healing is so much faster and less painful.

Does LANAP Regrow Gum and Bone?

Perhaps, but not exactly — what it does do is create the best conditions possible to speed a patient’s own natural regenerative healing processes, especially in comparison to traditional procedures.

There’s no cutting and sewing to recover from, so the tissues can heal more easily. Then, applying the laser itself helps sterilize the area for better healing, and the light frequency used promotes quick new tissue growth in the gums and bone treated. There’s also clinical evidence for some bone regeneration shown after use of LANAP for gum disease, although complete regeneration is something scientists are still working to understand.

We do offer other dental techniques and procedures to help bone regeneration for patients with severe periodontal disease, such as guided bone regeneration. That treatment option directs healing through the use of soft membranes placed around pockets left after eliminating diseased bone tissue.

Monterey Peninsula Dental Group has been serving patients from all over the Monterey Peninsula since 1972, and has been recognized by our local Chamber of Commerce as a top local dentist. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have about LANAP treatment, gum disease, and other dental topics! Just contact us online anytime, or give our office a call during business hours at 831-373-3068.

Osseous Surgery vs. Laser Gum Disease Treatment

In the array of treatments dentists use to help patients with periodontitis or advanced gum disease, osseous surgery is one of the options. It’s typically used to treat severe or advanced gum disease, when other treatments haven’t worked to get rid of the problem.

Patients with advanced gingivitis or periodontitis at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group have the option of laser-based gum disease treatment, sometimes called LANAP, as well. That can be less scary than traditional osseous surgery, and we’ll explain the differences.

What Does It Do?

Osseous surgery is done by a qualified periodontist, a dentist that specializes in gum treatments. It’s one of the more traditional procedures available to dentists, but still has a good track record of success.

In patients with bad gum disease, sometimes there are persistent pockets of bacteria and plaque nestled in the bone below the gums, that can’t be removed through more common means like scaling and root planing. Because there’s no way for a patient to reach these pockets themselves, they can develop into serious gum and bone infections, and eventually lead to tooth and bone loss. Removing these pockets stops the progression of the disease and gives you a healthy, infection-free mouth.

What Happens In Osseous Surgery?

Your dentist will make cuts in the gum tissue near the pockets to be removed, then clean out the pockets of bacteria and any diseased tissue or bone surrounding it. Sometimes this is also called gingival flap surgery, because of the flaps cut in the gums to access the pockets. The “osseous” part of the procedure refers to any bone removal or reshaping that’s needed during surgery. Sometimes these pockets of infection damage the jawbone or leave rough areas underneath, and these may need to be removed or recontoured.

After the pockets are cleaned out, the dentist will adjust the gum tissue with scalpel and stitching to tighten the gums around the roots of the teeth. This creates solid attachments between the gums and teeth, which helps prevent future pockets from developing and makes it easier to maintain good dental health.

After-Care Instructions for Osseous Surgery

The healing time for osseous surgery is longer than the newer laser-assisted procedures, since the tissue has been cut. The total recovery time can be around a month, depending on the extent of the osseous surgery done. It usually takes two weeks before you should eat anything other than soft foods, to prevent further trauma and help your mouth heal.

Some minor swelling, bleeding and possible facial bruising is common in the days following osseous surgery, and post-operative pain can be managed with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications. Your dentist is also likely to prescribe antibiotics to keep any new infection from taking hold in this healing period. With every procedure we do, we send thorough at-home care instructions with each patient, and encourage them to follow them closely for the best healing possible. Good, regular home dental care is also important for the rest of a periodontal patient’s life to avoid recurring disease.

Some patients need additional dental procedures after osseous surgery. The surgery may cause the appearance of longer teeth, and larger spaces between the teeth, as a result of tissue removal and gum tightening. If these changes affect your appearance, gum grafting is an option to restore a natural-looking gum line.

Laser Periodontal Surgery

At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we offer an alternative to osseous surgery called LANAP, or laser-assisted new attachment procedure. Instead of a scalpel, the diseased tissue is removed with a specialized laser. The laser is able to kill bacteria without cutting into any gum or bone tissue. We also use it to encourage the gums to reattach more tightly to the teeth and promote fast healing.

The recovery time is just a few days, and no follow-up procedures are typically needed, because nothing has been cut away. Our dentists prefer LANAP over osseous surgery in severe periodontal cases, because of the improved recovery and healing, and fewer after-surgery side effects like swelling and pain.

To talk to our friendly and experienced staff about possible gum disease treatments, or to ask any questions you have about this and other procedures, contact us anytime here. We serve patients from all across the Monterey Peninsula and welcome new patients.

Professional vs. At-Home Whitening: What are the Advantages of Each?

Teeth Whitening Options:

Having whiter teeth is a goal for many people, whether they’re trying to address cosmetic issues resulting from dental problems or just age or diet-related yellowing. Whiter teeth can help you make a better first impression in your work and social life, and help you feel confident. For most people, discoloration or yellowing of teeth happens naturally with age and time, but it also can be hurried along if you drink or eat things that stain your teeth. Smoking is a big culprit for yellow teeth as well.

While there are DIY at-home teeth whitening kits on every drugstore’s shelves, often with very convincing ad campaigns and promises, there are also risks and negative results that can happen when you whiten your teeth at home. Professional dental whitening is another option for our patients, but it can be intimidating to think about getting whitening done at a dentist’s office.

We’ll explain the differences between the two approaches and help you decide which one is best for you.

Treatment Differences

There’s a wide variety of at-home whitening kits, which can include trays, strips, gels and bleaches. Most are a one-size-fits-all treatment that, on average, can help you get whiter teeth slowly, over the course of weeks or months. In fact, if an over-the-counter whitening product promises you immediate results, beware: It’s likely either not true, or relies on too-harsh bleaches that can damage your teeth and gum tissue.

Usually, at-home whitening kits require you to wear trays or strips for a set amount of time daily. Tray-type products need a few hours a day, while strips can sometimes be worn for just a few minutes daily. It’s common for users of these products to experience increased tooth sensitivity and gum (gingival) pain during the treatment period, according to the American Dental Association.

The whitening process in our dental office is also not immediate, but it typically takes just two weeks to complete a course of whitening treatment. We use trays that are custom-fit to your teeth, which allows us to get much more effective results than at-home kits. And, sensitivity or pain shouldn’t be a problem, as we carefully adjust the right amount of bleaching agent for your teeth. If you do experience these side effects, we are able to manage them in-office safely and effectively.

How In-Office Whitening Works

If you have professional whitening done in our office, the first thing that happens is taking impressions of your teeth. These are used to create stints or trays specially for you. A perfect fit to your teeth helps achieve the best possible outcome, and the trays are ready in just a few days.

Your Monterey Peninsula Dental Group dentist will give you a bleaching agent to use in the trays, and this will gradually brighten and whiten your teeth over the next two weeks. We recommend wearing the trays each night for 3-4 hours. The trays are clear and unobtrusive, and most patients say they’re unnoticeable by other people.

Some patients choose all-over tooth whitening, while others do just their upper teeth. As the bleaching agent works, it will remove stains from your tooth enamel, while leaving your tooth structure and any existing dental work alone. Patients often see significant brightening even from day to day.

Once the treatment is over, and your desired brightness is achieved, we’ll provide you with additional bleaching agent to use once in a while to maintain the white of your teeth. This is only needed occasionally after your whitening is done. For more on how we approach whitening, see our explanation of it here.

Cost Concerns

Professional dental whitening is often more expensive than at-home treatments, especially when comparing it to the low end of the at-home whitening products. Typical store-bought whitening kits can be as little as $20, and go all the way up to a few hundred dollars, depending on the type of product, the brand, and the quality.

On average, in-office whitening treatments are more in the $300-$600 range, and you should know that most dental insurance plans don’t cover the service because it’s considered a cosmetic procedure. However, if you’re paying entirely out-of-pocket, some discount dental plans or group insurances can get you a break on the cost of teeth whitening and other cosmetic services.

Risks of At-Home Whitening

Certain at-home whitening products can harm your gums and teeth in the long run, especially the lower quality ones. Gums can shrink back and dry in response to harsh bleaches, which makes you more prone to infection and eventual tooth decay. We especially caution patients who have extensive cavities or untreated dental problems against at-home whitening kits, because the bleach can extend into cavities and damage the tooth structure permanently. It also can damage nerves, cause toothaches, and lead to stomach problems.

Patchy or spotted teeth are also a common result of over-the-counter whitening, because the bleaching trays aren’t customized to fit just your teeth. So any irregularities or different angles or shapes can cause the bleach to stick only in some places, which doesn’t happen with professional whitening.

Our Dentists Can Help You Achieve the Best Whitening Outcome

If you want to use at-home whiteners and aren’t sure about what to choose, ask one of our dentists at your next appointment. We can help you understand the best products & teeth whitening methods and inform you about correct application of over-the-counter whitening systems. Whether you choose our professional teeth whitening treatment or an at-home option, we think it’s important to keep you and your teeth healthy!

What is Gingivitis & How is It Treated?

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis, otherwise known as periodontal disease, is when your gums are irritated, red, swollen and often bleed when you brush. This is caused by a lack of oral hygiene which causes plaque build-up. If ignored, the plaque turns to tartar and results in inflammation of the gums.

Plaque forms on your teeth daily from all the foods you consume. To get rid of plaque you will need to brush daily as it reoccurs quickly. If plaque isn’t removed it will turn in to tartar which is difficult to remove without a professional cleaning.

Here are some early stage signs that you may be on the path to gingivitis:

  • Bad breath
  • Redness of gums/pain to touch
  • Bleeding when brushing/Flossing
  • Receding gums

Other risk factors are:

  • Age
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Drug use
  • Poor diet
  • Family history
  • Hormonal changes


If ignoring all of these signs, gingivitis can lead to more a more serious disease that result in loss of teeth, infection or serious damage to the bone this is called periodontitis. With continued neglect, the gum tissues and bone that forms around your tooth will begin to pull away from your tooth/teeth which allows the bacterial disease to build up faster, contributing to tooth loss. Gum recession occurs gradually and some patients don’t even realize they have it. Some signs will be tooth sensitivity or one day you may notice your teeth are looking longer than normal.

A common way to treat gingivitis is to get regular deep cleanings by your hygienists in order to remove the harmful bacteria. In more extreme cases, a more thorough cleaning called scaling and root planing is required, during which tartar and calculus buildup is removed from below the gum line.

In cases of advanced periodontal disease, many patients need to undergo osseous surgery, a procedure designed to smooth and reshape the bone to remove deep pockets and allow healthy gum tissue to re-attach. Fortunately, Monterey Peninsula Dental Group offers a laser alternative to osseous surgery called LANAP, or the Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. LANAP is less painful and invasive than traditional periodontal surgery and comes with a reduced recovery time. Read more about LANAP here.

Gum Disease has been found to be linked to heart problems, stroke, stomach problems, and diabetes. If you ignore signs of gum disease, the bacteria in plaque that builds between your teeth can eventually enter your blood stream and cause problems in more places than just your smile.

Good news, gingivitis is reversible with regular visits to your dentist and cleanings with your hygienists. With regular brushing and flossing, electric toothbrush use, and even use of an antiseptic mouth wash or toothpaste, you can help prevent gingivitis and keep your clean healthy teeth.

In early stages gingivitis can be reversed in as little as a couple weeks with at home care. Luckily, our office provides comfortable cleanings to rid the bacteria of periodontal disease and also offer laser dentistry for certain stages of gum disease. Don’t wait to address symptoms of gingivitis, book your appointment with Monterey Peninsula Dental Group today!