Gum Disease & How I Treat It:
Natural   Meets  Traditional  –  Part 1 of 3

   Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       December 20, 2015


Gum Disease TreatmentI am a periodontist, a dentist specializing in the treatment of gum disease. I have been treating patients for almost 42 years. I know what gum disease is; I know how to treat gum disease. Also, I know what you need to do to prevent gum disease from damaging your mouth and your overall health.


I come from a different perspective: I believe combining a natural approach along with a traditional approach creates the best of both worlds. So, I have put together my thoughts in a series of three Parts.


In this Part, I discuss the prevalence of gum disease and what you may notice if you have gum disease. In Part 2, you will learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy gums as well as how a dentist can determine if you have gum disease. In the last Part of the series, I go into the causes of gum disease and my unique approach to treatment.


What’s The Big Deal?


The big deal is that gum disease is pervasive in our society and affects the entire body.


A study published in 2010 reported that 93.9% of adults in the US had some form of gingivitis, which is the early stage of gum disease. Gingivitis usually causes redness and bleeding of the gum tissues surrounding the teeth.


Another study published in 2012 showed that 47.2% of the adult population over the age of 30 in the US had periodontitis (which translated to 64.7 million Americans). If you were over the age of 65, the chance of having periodontitis would jump to 70.1%. Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of gum disease where the gums are infected and the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth are breaking down. This disease leads to bad breath, loose teeth, loss of teeth, sensitive teeth, pain, gum recession, and even spread of infection to other parts of the body.


Gum disease can be a big deal.


How Do You Know If You Have Gum Disease?


If your gums bleed when brushing or flossing, you probably have some type of gum disease. But, that is not the whole story. You may have gum disease if your gums are not bleeding because the disease may be deeper under the gums. Sometimes the gums may be swollen or tender, but not always. The teeth may be loose or sensitive, but not always. You may have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, but not always.


Gum (or periodontal) diseases are divided between gingivitis, which only affects the gums, and periodontitis, which involves the gums around the teeth and the jawbone supporting the teeth.


In Part 2, I help you understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy gum tissues and how a dental specialist can determine if you have this disease.

“I Feel Guilty”

evolution rMy patient called me the other day, one day after her LANAP® procedure. She said she “felt guilty.” I asked her, “Why?” She said that she took off from work all day Friday because she had the laser gum surgery I performed for her on Thursday. I asked her, “Then, why do you feel guilty?” She said, “Because, I had no pain or discomfort, and I feel guilty because I took off from work. I could have gone back to work the next day with no problems.”
That is the type of comment I hear from my patients following LANAP procedures.
LANAP stands for Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. This is a cutting-edge laser protocol for advanced gum disease called periodontitis. This treatment does not require cutting with a scalpel and does not require any stitches. As my patient stated, most patients go back to their normal routines the next day.
Periodontitis is a chronic infection of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth as well as a destructive infection of the bone that supports the teeth in the jawbone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored a vast study of the US adult population that was reported in 2012. This study was the most comprehensive study of its kind ever done in this country. The results were stunning. It discovered the prevalence of periodontitis in the US adult population over the age of 30 was 47% (64.7 million Americans), and the prevalence of this destructive disease jumped to 70% in the population aged 65 and above.
“This is the most accurate picture of periodontal disease in the U.S. adult population we have ever had,” said Pamela McClain, DDS, and President of the American Academy of Periodontology at the time of the paper’s publication. “For the first time, we now have a precise measure of the prevalence of periodontal disease, and can better understand the true severity and extent of periodontal disease in our country.” Link to quote.
Not only is this an infection of the gum tissue and bone surrounding the teeth, it is an infection that can spread to many other areas of the body.
Some of the signs and symptoms of gum disease might be bleeding gums, swollen or red gums, bad breath, loose teeth, sensitive teeth, and receding gums. Unfortunately, a person does not have to have these symptoms to have this infection. The infection could be so deep that these symptoms, which may have been a problem many years ago, are no longer an obvious problem. The disease may have gotten so deep that all the typical symptoms have gone away. But, the infection is still there – only much deeper. The ultimate result could be abscesses, pain, loss of teeth, and spread of infection throughout the body.
There are various ways to treat this infection, but diagnosis is the first and most important step. Without a thorough examination by a trained dental professional, a person may never know if he or she has this disease until the teeth were unable to be saved. Once this infection is properly diagnosed, treatment could be started.
Usually, patient-friendly treatment consists of removing the causes of the disease and then assisting the body to repair the gum and bone structures. In my opinion, it is critically important to educate the patient in making nutrient-dense food choices and eliminating unhealthy food choices. This healthy eating lifestyle could be a determining factor for disease returning in the future or not. Links are here and here.
The current treatment technology has advanced to the point that procedures do not have to be uncomfortable. And, the results are far better than protocols from years gone by.
The best part of LANAP is that patients get much better results than tradition periodontal surgery without pain or swelling or bleeding. Here is a link to some clinical research.
I have been practicing periodontics for 41 years, and for the first 35 years of my career I was performing traditional periodontal surgery. Results were good, but the healing process was uncomfortable. For the last 5 years or so, I have been providing my patients, who require treatment for their gum disease, with the better option of LANAP. The LANAP protocol kills the offending infectious bacteria without harming healthy gum, bone, or tooth. The LANAP protocol also assists the patient’s ability to grow new bone where there was diseased bone from the infection. It is estimated that approximately 30% of the periodontists in the United States now are incorporating this protocol in their treatment of periodontitis for their patients.
I am somewhat unique in that I incorporate the cutting-edge treatment of LANAP with primal nutrition and lifestyle. I have found that LANAP in combination with healthy changes in food choices has provided the body with an increased ability to heal. Patients have been pleased, I have been pleased, and their gum disease has been treated with much better results than conventional gum surgery.
I designed and implemented an in-office study in 2014 that investigated the effects of specific nutrient-dense food supplements on gum disease. Well Being Journal published my research in its March/April 2015 issue.