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Laser treatment for gum disease has unexpected benefits for diabetics

Posted at 10:34 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 23:35:57-04

TULSA, Okla. — Gum disease is a problem for about 8 and 10 Americans, which puts at risk their teeth and even their overall health.

"My teeth were in pretty bad shape," patient Randy Byers said.

Byers admits his teeth were loose, cracked - and probably needed pulling.

At the same time, his Type 2 diabetes barely was controlled.

"There were times I would check [blood sugar], and it would be in the 4 and 500s. So it would get pretty high," he said.

Traditional dental surgery with bone grafts was one option.

"But that would take sometimes four or five appointments up to 8 hours of treatment, and it was always painful,” Dr. Randy McCormick said. “Patients didn't really want to do that procedure."

Instead, McCormick used a first-of-its-kind laser - the LANAP protocol treatment. FDA approved, it's designed to regenerate gum tissue with two to three 2-hour laser treatments.

"The laser itself just removes the bad tissue,” McCormick said. “It doesn't remove the good tissue."

Before and after X-rays of Randy's mouth show the bone and gums regenerating.

"That dark area was where there was no bone in between the tooth right there," he said. “…Now you can see where the bone is starting to grow between the two roots... and also where it has completely grown between the two roots."

After the treatments, Randy noticed something else.

"After the treatment my blood sugar plummeted and actually dropped too low with all of the medication I was on,” he said.

McCormick says he's seeing this side benefit in all of his diabetic patients.

"What we found is they usually are able to get off most of their diabetic medications because of the decrease in inflammation,” McCormick said.

Insurance covers some of the cost, a cost that's paying off for Randy – with better health.

"Probably better than I've seen in many, many years,” he said.

McCormick says the laser treatment starts at $935.

The best way to avoid gum disease, he says, is to floss every day and brush your teeth twice a day, along with seeing your dentist twice a year for complete checkups.

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