The use of lasers in dentistry may be new, but it is rapidly becoming a preferable mode of doing dental procedures. Laser dentistry utilizes medical-grade lasers to treat hard and soft tissues in the mouth. It has numerous dental applications, though it is still far from being considered the mainstream in dentistry. While lasers were introduced in dentistry in 1989, their use became popular only about 5-10 years ago.
Traditional forms of dentistry involve drills and intimidating tools that can be cause for anxiety in most people. The replacement of these tools with dental lasers offers patients a more comfortable experience at the dental office.
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Types of Dental Lasers
There are two main types of dental lasers:
Hard Tissue Lasers – These are used to cut hard tissues in the mouth like teeth. The commonly used lasers include Er:YAG and Er, Cr:YSGG lasers, which can be absorbed into the hydroxyapatite mineral found in teeth. Using hard tissue dental lasers reduces the chances of damage to dental pulp during cavity preparation and overheating of bone tissue caused by dental drills during surgeries.
Soft Tissue Lasers – Commonly used soft tissue dental lasers include the Nd:YAG laser, CO2 laser and the diode laser, which can be absorbed through the water and hemoglobin found in soft tissues.. They are used for all kinds of soft tissue surgeries in the mouth and for treatment of ulcers and sores.
Uses of Laser Dentistry
- Low-grade soft tissue dental lasers are used for early detection of tooth cavities. Hard tissue dental lasers may be used to remove the decayed part of the tooth and for tooth preparation to receive dental restorations.
- Dental lasers can be used to treat tooth sensitivity by sealing the exposed dentinal tubules responsible for temperature-associated sensitivity.
- Soft tissue surgeries are one of the most common dental procedures performed using dental lasers. This includes gum surgeries for gum disease treatment, removal of excessive soft tissue and frenulum attachment (tongue-tie), and reshaping gum tissue to fix a gummy smile. Sleep apnea caused by soft tissue overgrowth can also be treated by laser dentistry.
- Used in root canal treatments for more effective cleaning and disinfection of the tooth.
- Using a low-grade soft tissue laser in teeth whitening procedures speeds up the bleaching process.
- Low-intensity dental lasers can also be used to treat cold sores and minimize their healing time.
- Treatment of pain and inflammation in the temporomandibular joint.
- Painless and suture-free removal of benign tumors in the mouth.
- Assisting in regeneration of damaged blood vessels and nerves.
Benefits of Laser Dentistry
Minimally Invasive and Lesser Trauma – Lasers are highly focused beams of energy with very specific target areas. This increases their precision and prevents damage to the surrounding tissues, which is commonly seen in traditional surgeries. The gums and teeth around the target area are able to retain their natural composition to a large extent. Lesser trauma, in turn, leads to lesser healing times and better regeneration of tissues.
Less Need for Anesthesia – Some procedures performed using laser dentistry are practically painless and require little to no anesthesia. People who have anxiety due to the potential pain caused by dental procedures benefit greatly from laser dentistry.
Sterilization – Dental lasers eliminate the infection-causing bacteria from the operative site. Sterilization of the operative area reduces healing time in surgeries and prolongs the life of dental restorations, if any.
Minimal Bleeding –There is minimal to no bleeding in surgeries performed using dental lasers, since the high-energy beam promotes blood clotting in the area it is used. Post-operative swelling is also reduced to a large extent. A lot of the procedures may not even require sutures.
Risks Associated with Laser Dentistry
Laser dentistry is generally considered safe for most procedures as long as it’s done by a qualified professional. The Academy of Laser Dentistry offers three levels of certification to dentists. This sets a high standard of excellence to ensure optimal quality of laser dentistry services. Using laser dentistry without the right expertise can cause damage to the dental tissues, like using the wrong power level or wavelength of the dental laser.
Although the risks associated with laser dentistry are small, there may be some disadvantages to it like –
- Cannot be used on teeth with metal fillings like amalgam.
- Cannot be used for shaping or polishing dental restorations. Dental drills have to be used for these procedures.
- Potential risk of injury when used by an inexperienced dentist.
- Treatment timings can be longer when done using a dental laser.
- Cannot replace all kinds of traditional dental equipment.
- Most treatments done using dental lasers are costlier than traditionally performed procedures.
Finding Laser Dentistry Near Me
Getting a laser dentistry treatment can be a great way to make your dental experience less invasive and more comfortable. As the technology for dental lasers continues to improve, an increasing number of dentists are opting to use it for a variety of procedures in their dental offices. With more use, the cost of laser dentistry also continues to decrease.
In the future, the use of dental lasers may expand to include dental cleaning procedures, like removal of calculus and root planing. Once laser dentistry can permanently replace the use of dental drills, it will help reduce the fear and anxiety experienced by most patients on their dental appointments. It may be of especially good use in children, who tend to have greater dental anxiety than adults. There may eventually come a time when advancements in dental technology will allow us to completely dispose of dental drills and surgical scalpels. Dental lasers have a long way to go in that regard, but we are surely headed in the right direction.
Before deciding on any kind of laser-assisted dental treatment, talk to your dentist about whether you are a suitable candidate for the same. Depending on the kind of dental treatment you require, we may be to offer you a painless and comfortable experience using laser dentistry. Get in touch with our expert team at Brooklyn Blvd. Dental to know more about laser dentistry and its various applications.