Stop the Bleeding

Laser-assisted periodontal treatment repairs swollen, bleeding gums.

Lucia Baez is stationed at the front of the long line of people pulling on the rope that leads to the Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Tampa, providing good will and medical care to children with special needs.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Lucia Baez

As benevolent as they come, Lucia is a donations coordinator at the Shriners Hospitals for Children’s headquarters in Tampa, where she willingly admits there are few things she enjoys more than doing her job.

“I actually moved from Broward County to work for the Shriners, and I’m very proud of the work I do,” Lucia says. “My department coordinates practically all the donations that come in, so it’s very rewarding work.”

Lucia’s move to Tampa came a little more than three years ago. Shortly after making the move, she began a search for a new dentist that resulted in the selection of Francisco Arévalo, DMD, who opened his practice in Tampa in 1997.

“When I first went to see Dr. Arévalo, he did a complete examination, and the thing I remember most about it is that he was the first dentist I’d ever been to who actually took the time to go over the x-rays of every one of my teeth,” Lucia says.

“I was very impressed with that as well as the fact that he really took his time with me and told me exactly which teeth needed to be worked on and which teeth didn’t need to be worked on. Right away, I knew I’d made a good choice.”

Dr. Arévalo says Lucia’s dental situation was typical of many patients he sees for the first time. She needed several new fillings, a crown on one tooth and some cosmetic work to even out the tops and bottoms of several teeth.

She also needed some periodontal work done, as Dr. Arévalo reported finding a lot of swelling of the gums, some bleeding gums and several periodontal pockets that ran as deep as six millimeters, which is more than three millimeters deeper than normal.

That news did not come as a surprise to Lucia, who, despite receiving regular deep cleanings from the dentist she visited in Broward County, had been suffering with swollen, bleeding gums for a couple of years.

“An Excellent Technique”

To correct the latter issue, Dr. Arévalo suggested Lucia undergo a minimally invasive laser treatment that he’s been performing for several years now called LANAP®, which stands for laser-assisted new attachment procedure.

LANAP is one of several treatment options for periodontal disease, but Dr. Arévalo prefers it over others because it improves the attachment between the gums and teeth, does not result in a gross loss of tissue or gum recession and is pain free.

“Most patients who underwent one of the previous treatments used for gum disease will tell you their frustration came from how painful the surgery was, how much discomfort it caused them,” Dr. Arévalo says.

“But with LANAP, patients don’t complain about pain either during or after the treatment. It’s an excellent technique. And when we use it, we see an amazing change. We get a wow factor.”

Lucia chose to have Dr. Arévalo correct some of her other dental issues before undergoing the LANAP procedure, but she says she was convinced it was what she needed after she watched an online video detailing the procedure and its benefits.

“I was very impressed with what I saw on the website,” Lucia says. “So, after Dr. Arévalo replaced some fillings and did some other work, I went ahead and told him I wanted to get the LANAP procedure done, and I’m very happy that I did.”

Treating one side of the mouth – both top and bottom – during each session, Dr. Arévalo typically completes the LANAP procedure in two visits that require the patient to spend about two hours in the dental chair.

“It’s an excellent technique. And when we use it, we see an amazing change. We get a wow factor.” – Dr. Arévalo

During each session, Dr. Arévalo completes three passes across the gums with the laser. The first pass kills all bacteria in the gums, vaporizes the diseased gum tissue and dehydrates the tartar on the teeth to make it brittle and easy to remove.

During the second step, the tartar is removed with a fine-tipped, vibrating, ultrasonic instrument, the teeth are rinsed with an antimicrobial substance that halts the growth of new bacteria and all diseased tissue is removed.

During the third pass, the setting on the laser is changed and an antimicrobial seal is created that prevents re-infection and releases growth factors from blood cells that help regenerate the attachment between the gums and the teeth.

Surprising Results

Depending on the degree of damage to the gums, the results of the LANAP procedure can take anywhere from two weeks to two months or more to become evident. Lucia began to notice a difference within a couple of weeks of undergoing the treatment.

“Within a week or two, the swelling and bleeding stopped almost right away,” she says. “And once the bleeding stopped, something else that I had been dealing with for a while stopped, too.

“For a long time prior to getting the LANAP procedure done, I had been having a lot of stomach issues. I was getting a lot of indigestion, bloating and heartburn, and for the longest time, I thought it was from a medication I was taking.

“But then, almost as soon as I got done with the LANAP procedure, I started to feel better. That whole issue was gone. Then I read somewhere that bleeding gums and that kind of thing can lead to stomach problems and heartburn.

“So the LANAP procedure didn’t just help heal my gums and make my teeth stronger. I believe it also helped clear up another health issue that I had been dealing with for a long time. That made me feel even better about it.”

Following the LANAP procedure, Dr. Arévalo re-evaluates the patient’s gums every three months for a year to ensure the procedure provides the intended benefits. He says proper home dental care is critical to its success and that Lucia achieved that objective.

Lucia says that Dr. Arévalo’s caring manner, patient approach and the results of all the work he performed on her, including the LANAP procedure, convinced her that she should make him her regular dentist going forward.

“Yes, he has become the dentist that I see on a regular basis,” Lucia confirms. “I love his manner and his professionalism, and to give you an idea of how happy I am with him, I’ve already recommended him to a few friends.

“Everyone working in his office is really nice, and I want to make a point of how clean everything in that office is. The whole place is very clean, and everyone is very pleasant. I was very impressed with that and very impressed with Dr. Arévalo.

“I’d recommend him to anyone, especially someone who is having trouble with their gums. Even if it’s just a little swelling or bleeding, get them checked out, and if you need it, get the LANAP procedure done, because it works great.”

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