Laser Focus
Utilizing the latest in laser technology and minimally invasive procedures, Dr. Scott K. Smith improves the function and esthetics of each patient’s smile
by Leigh Stuart

Periodontal disease is bordering on an epidemic in the United States, impacting approximately 30 percent of the population—including more than 70 percent of Americans age 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Loosely described as problems relating to chronic inflammation of the gums and bone in the mouth, periodontal disease affects the esthetics and function of the mouth. Even worse, it also has been linked to other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and even rheumatoid arthritis.

Professionals such as Scott K. Smith, D.D.S., not only understand the importance of this relationship—the oral-systemic connection, as it is known—but can also help patients overcome these health issues.

Dr. Smith, who grew up in Media, attended Penn State University, where he received an honors degree in biochemistry. He then went on to earn his dental degree from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. He says, “My father was a dentist, so dentistry kind of came naturally to me.”

Following his dental training at the University of Maryland Dental School, Dr. Smith spent an additional two years to earn a certificate in Periodontology through the dual program at the University of Maryland and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Although Dr. Smith finished his formal training back in 1993, his affiliations and continued quest for learning are evidenced by the many memberships and additional certificates he has achieved. He is a member of American Academy of Periodontology, American Dental Association, International Congress of Oral Implantology, International Association for Advanced Laser Dentistry and American Academy of Facial Esthetics, for which he is an instructor.

“I like to consider myself a sleuth in that I can utilize my broad knowledge and skills to diagnose, identify the causes of the disease and effectively employ the correct treatment modalities,” says Dr. Smith. “Some people are much more susceptible to gum disease largely due to genetics,” adding that he often tells patients periodontal disease is caused by the “three B’s”: bacteria; the body’s reaction to the bacteria; and bruxism, or the involuntary grinding of one’s teeth.

“Periodontal disease, if it goes too long without treatment, can cause bone loss, recession and shifting of teeth,” he says. “The bone essentially erodes from around the teeth due to this chronic inflammation.

“Traditional methods of treating periodontitis often cause further recession of the gum tissue which can cause some unwanted effects such as sensitivity and longer looking teeth.”

Dr. Smith utilizes cutting-edge technology such as LANAP, which stands for laser assisted new attachment procedure. “I can provide my patients with comparable if not better results than conventional treatment with far less time and discomfort,” Dr. Smith says. “I’m one of the few periodontists in the area that uses this technology, and I’ve been using it since 2008. With lasers, we’re able to selectively destroy the bacteria causing the disease—also infected tissue in the gum and bone—without using a scalpel blade.

“We can selectively use the laser to eliminate all the bad stuff without the invasiveness of traditional surgery,” he continues. “We don’t have to use sutures, we don’t cut the gums, and the wand is the width of three strands of hair. … That’s one of the greatest improvements in periodontics in the past several decades.”

Another area where laser gum treatment is providing exceptional results is with gum and bone loss around dental implants, according to Dr. Smith. Dental implants, he explains, are essentially titanium screws that anchor crowns or bridges and even dentures.

“With more and more practitioners placing dental implants—with different levels of experience—we’re seeing more problems with disease around the implants as well,” he says. “The amount of periodontal disease around implants has dramatically increased. This is, again, where I can use a laser to really get it under control.”

Traditionally, Periodontology was the dental specialty focused on the diseases of the supporting structures of teeth. Today, periodontists are the leaders in repairing and replacing loss of bone, gum tissue, teeth and even the relationship of the jaws to the entire face.

“Patients who have lost substantial bone either from disease or trauma are referred to me,” Dr. Smith says. “We utilize computed tomography or CT scans to help assess the quantity of bone loss and to help us determine the correct treatment modality to provide the best reparative result.”

When placing dental implants, Dr. Smith continues, “From the CT scan I can have a laboratory computer generate the exact position of where the best place is to position the implant. This way I know going into the surgery exactly how the end result is going to be.”

One of the more common referrals to Dr. Smith’s office is for gum recession. “Recession is due in large part to excessive forces on teeth causing the gum to shrink away exposing the root,” he says.

Dr. Smith uses state-of-the-art techniques for this common problem as well. “I studied under a dentist named Dr. John Chao, who introduced the Chao pinhole technique, which is a unique technique to reverse the gum recession,” he says. Dr. Smith is one of the few practitioners in the Greater Philadelphia Area utilizing this method. “I don’t have to cut the gum tissue, I don’t have to suture, and I don’t have to take gum from the roof of the mouth. It is a great boon to our patients.”

Presently, Dr. Smith estimates approximately 50 percent of his gum-augmentation procedures utilize this technique, which, like many of his other treatment offerings, negates the need for cutting or sutures. “It’s so much better,” Dr. Smith says. “Patients have very little discomfort and have exceptional results.”

Dr. Smith not only fixes the area inside the mouth but also around it, thereby providing complete smile rejuvenation. Dr. Smith notes, “In addition to treating disease and repairing lost tissue or replacing missing teeth, we are also focused on facial esthetics.” 

Dr. Smith studied under renowned practitioner Robert Gordon, D.D.S., also known as “Dr. Lips,” in Tampa, Fla., to learn the art and science of restoring and/or enhancing beautiful lips.

“The area around the mouth is the most difficult to restore, to look more youthful,” Dr. Smith observes. “As we age, our lips become thinner and often we get ‘smokers’ lines.’ These vertical lines make us look older than we are. I like to employ multiple treatment modalities to erase lines and wrinkles and improve the youthful fullness of lips. I use BOTOX to reduce the muscle contraction and I use dermal fillers to restore the fullness of the face and lips.”

Dr. Smith is particularly fond of using a cannula rather than a needle to place the dermal filler. “The use of a cannula rather than a needle lessens the pain, bruising and swelling often associated with injection of fillers with needles,” he explains.

A needle “doesn’t discriminate,” as Dr. Smith says, meaning a needle will inject through tissue and blood vessels which can lead to unpleasant aftereffects such as bruising. The more discriminating cannula, he explains, is designed to bounce around blood vessels, thus minimizing bruising.

“Dermal fillers and BOTOX alone are insufficient to fully restore a more youthful appearance and smile,” Dr. Smith explains, noting that he employs a fractional CO2 laser to resurface and smooth the skin of the face. Dr. Smith also uses other laser systems to improve facial appearance. “Using the Alma Harmony [laser] system, we can do everything from tightening skin, reduce age spots and red blotches to minimizing smokers’ lines around the mouth,” Dr. Smith explains. “Fortunately, we can take care of all of this now in our office.

“In the end, our focus is on providing our patients with cutting-edge treatments to restore health, function, and confidence.”

Center for Periodontal & Implant Dentistry

SKS Facial Esthetics

170 N. Henderson Road, Suite 308
King of Prussia, PA 19406

Photograph by Jody Robinson