Cutting Edge: RSDM Students To Learn Perio Laser Surgery

An illustration of Millennium's laser surgery protocol.

An illustration of Millennium’s laser surgery protocol.

RSDM students will soon learn how to perform periodontal surgery with a new digital laser technology that does the job without scalpels or stitches.

When special training begins for post-graduate periodontal students in the spring, RSDM will be one of the first dental school’s in the country introducing the technology as part of its curriculum.

“It’s really quite amazing,’’ said Dr. Andrew Sullivan, Interim Chair of Periodontics, who completed a professional training course last month. “Patients were thrilled with it.’’

Sullivan and other faculty members learned to use Millennium Technologies’ PerioLase MVP-7 to perform surgery on patients with periodontitis. Millennium, the company that developed the Periolase and the protocol for using it, holds training courses at its California-based headquarters in conjunction with the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry. In addition to Sullivan, faculty members Dr. Howard Drew and Dr. Joel Pascuzzi also received the training.

The surgical laser procedure, called LANAP, spares patients nearly all of the pain and bleeding that accompanies traditional surgery on infected gums.

In non-laser periodontal surgery, an incision is made in the gums so that tartar can be scraped from the roots of the tooth and bone can be reshaped. Afterwards, the gums are sutured. For patients, it can be painful and recovery is often slow.

LANAP works by lasering away infected tissue before heat seals the gums with a thermal blood clot, creating a barrier between bacteria and tissue. There is little bleeding, no need for stiches and recovery is quick.

“Patients felt fine the next day,’’ Sullivan said.

After the technology and protocol is introduced to post-grads in the spring, it will be taught to third-year students in the summer, he said. Four faculty members are already trained in the surgical technique: Drs. Neal Lehrman, David Goteiner, Steve Scrivo and Jim Ryner.

While LANAP doesn’t negate the need for students to learn traditional methods of periodontal surgery, introducing them to new technology will give them a competitive advantage as practitioners, said Sullivan.“It’s not a replacement but it’s another tool to fight periodontal disease,’’ explained Sullivan. “It’s important for our residents to graduate on the leading edge, having been trained on the most advanced, evidence-based treatments available.”

The LANAP protocol is the only FDA-cleared laser periodontitis surgery, including 375 published positive patient outcomes and two histology studies.