Let’s take a closer look at this often cited article, and see how effective the LANAP procedure really is: Yukna, Carr and Evans. Histologic Evaluation of an Nd:YAG Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure in Humans. Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent 2007 27: 576-587.
Materials and Methods
First and foremost, only 6 pairs of teeth were analyzed in this study – hardly a big sample size.
While not necessarily a major issue, it is worth noting that all experimental teeth received “occlusal adjustment and were splinted to neighboring teeth with an extracoronal bond”. Why do I bring this up? This is part of the LANAP protocol, but I highly doubt it is even being done in private practice.
Additionally, all teeth received an unspecified “triple antibiotic ointment” and a “light cured dressing”. Again, definitely not routine measures taken in private practice, and undoubtedly they play some role in the treatment outcome. However, since all teeth received this treatment, a comparison of control vs. experiment is fair.
Cementum mediated new attachment was evident on 4 lased teeth, but Yukna himself states that “similar periodontal healing in humans has been shown with other surgical techniques”.
How much new cementum was actually seen? An average of 1.2mm. Repeat, just 1.2mm.
By no means would I consider this a good result. As Yukna clearly states in the beginning, “regeneration of the supporting tissues of the teeth is a primary goal of periodontal therapy”. Numerous studies demonstrate superior results when regenerative materials, such as grafts, membranes, Emdogain or rhBMP are used.
How can any clinician justify lowering the bar for periodontal therapy? How is this an advancement in patient care?
This study does clearly demonstrate “new attachment” and new cementum. The fibrin clot in the lased pocket apparently acts as an effective barrier to epithelium advancement, thereby allowing periodontal healing to proceed favorably. But it does not empower dentists to offer superior treatment to patients.
One may ask, why not use regenerative products with a proven record, in combination with Nd:YAG therapy? Nd:YAG, being so efficient in hemorrhagic tissues, promotes a fibrin clot that prohibits the use of regenerative material simply because there is no space to place the materials. The patient is robbed of the ability for an even better regenerative outcome.
The Case for Erbium Lasers in Periodontal Therapy
Erbium lasers (Er:YAG or YSGG) offer the same apparent periodontal benefits as the Nd:YAG: bactericidal effect and ablation of inflamed and diseased pocket epithelium. Additionally, a space is maintained in the pocket, allowing the concomitant use of regenerative products to further enhance the healing. De-epithelialization can then be performed with an Erbium or CO2 laser to inhibit epithelium downgrowth and prevent the formation of a long junctional epithelium. De-epithelialization can be done at post-op visits for as long as needed to help achieve the desired results.
Doesn’t that make more sense, fellow Laser Dentists?
The Nd:YAG and LANAP seem great in mild or moderate cases, but where intrabony defects are involved or where a higher level of regenerative predictability is desired, comprehensive laser periodontal therapy with an Erbium laser is the way to go. More Lit Reviews to follow.