AUSTIN (KXAN) — There is relief for the millions of Americans suffering from gum disease.

The FDA has cleared a procedure for dentists called The LANAP Protocol. It’s a laser that aims to stop the progression of gum disease and claims for the first time ever, regrow new gum and bone tissue in a patient.

Dr. Tuan Pham at Circle C Dental says before the laser was approved, treating gum disease required a long and painful process that involved cutting and sewing of the gums.

“One of the things that is traditionally done is something called flap surgery where your gums are basically peeled back like an orange so we can see the teeth and the build-up and the debris and clean it up,” he said.

Dr. Pham says the laser which is the thickness of three human hairs can selectively target damaged gum tissue.

“It has the ability for me to very accurately go into the areas of diseased tissue and selectively remove the diseased tissue, the bacteria that causes it and unbelievably also stimulate bone growth and tissue regeneration,” he said.

The company behind the device, Millennium Dental Technologies, says the laser harnesses the body’s own natural healing abilities to form new bone and grow new tissue to full functional health.

“It’s the closest thing that we consider a cure to gum disease,” he said. He says most insurance companies cover the procedure.

Approximately 85% of US adults with some form of gum disease.