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.

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