If you shudder at the thought of dentist drills, then you will be glad to hear that the growing use and acceptance of laser technology in dental treatments is reducing the need for traditional dental tools, resulting in less discomfort and shorter recovery times. The following article will explain what the term “Laser Dentistry” means and how it will positively impact your future dental treatments.
What Is Laser Dentistry?
This is the use of a notably focused narrow, intense beam of light energy to treat various dental problems. This light sterilises and clots blood vessels to reduce the risk of infections. Laser fluorescence can be used in multiple surgical procedures like a cutting tool or as a tissue vaporiser to melt away any tissue it touches. Despite a few exceptions, lasers replace the painful needles and drills of the past.
What Do Dentists Use Lasers To Treat?
- Tooth Decay – Dentists use lasers to remove the decaying parts of a tooth and also prepares its surrounding enamel to allow the installation of the fillings.
- Teeth Whitening – Lasers make an in-office teeth whitening procedure faster by activating the peroxide bleaching solution that is applied to the tooth surface.
- Biopsy Removal – Lasers are also used to take out a small part of tissue known as a biopsy used for examining cancer. The laser may also aid in removing sores and ease the discomfort caused by canker lesions in your mouth.
- Gum Disease – During a root canal procedure, dentists use lasers to reshape gums and remove bacteria.
How Does Laser Fluorescence Work in Dentistry?
Your dentist can use dental lasers to:
- Expose moderately erupted wisdom teeth
- Perform biopsy procedures
- Help treat root canal infections
- Remove muscle attachments that limit proper movement
- Speed up the tooth whitening process
- Minimize discomfort of cankers and cold sores
- Manage your gum tissue during impressions for crowns and other procedures
- Remove the overgrown tissues caused by various medications
- Remove and reshape the gum and the bone tissues during crown lengthening procedures
Types of Dental Lasers
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a variety of soft and hard tissue laser to be used in the dental treatment of adults and children. This is because dental lasers boast unique absorption characteristics.
Hard Tissue Laser
The hard tissue laser is primarily used for your teeth. Its wavelengths are highly absorbable by the calcium phosphate, the salt found in teeth, bone, and water. This makes it more efficient for cutting through bone and teeth with extreme precision.
Practical Procedural Uses:
- If you have sensitive teeth, your dentist can use dental lasers to cover tubules that are responsible for your tooth sensitivity located at the root of your teeth.
- When using hard tissue dental laser, you may not have to use a local anaesthetic injection or the traditional dental drill. The lasers used to kill the bacteria situated in a cavity leading to enhanced long-term tooth restoration. Nonetheless, dental lasers are not recommended for the installation of onlays, crowns or amalgam fillings.
Soft Tissue Laser
The soft tissue laser is highly absorbable in water and haemoglobin. This characteristic makes them more efficient in soft tissue management. They penetrate soft tissue while sealing nerve ending and blood vessels.
Practical Procedural Uses:
Your dentist may use soft tissue dental lasers for the early detection of cavities. This discovery is accomplished by reading the byproducts that are produced from tooth decay.
- Soft tissue laser can restructure your bone tissue and the gum with the help of hard tissue laser to uncover a better tooth structure and also provide a stable base for the Installation placement of tooth restorations. This procedure is known as crown lengthening.
- Soft tissue gum laser can help correct a gummy smile by reshaping the gum tissue to allow for a beautifully shaped tooth structure.
- Soft tissue laser also aids in the painless removal of soft tissue folds that are caused by sagging dentures.
- It can help in the treatment of children with a constrained or tight frenulum, as well as those who are unable to breastfeed because of restricted tongue movement. This procedure may also aid in eliminating speech impairments.
Other Dental Related Applications
- Sleep Apnea: If your sleep apnea is as a result of a tissue overgrowth in the throat area, a laser-assisted uvuloplasty or uvula palatoplasty procedure may be used to reshape your throat and ease any correlating breathing issues.
- Benign Tumours: If you have mild tumours on your lips, gums, palates or the sides of your inner cheeks, your dentist may use dental lasers to provide suture-free and painless removal.
- Nerve Regeneration: Dental lasers can also be used to regenerate damaged nerves, scars, and blood vessels.
- Teeth Whitening: A soft tissue low-intensity dental laser can help speed up the bleaching procedure during teeth whitening.
- Cold sores: Your dentist may use low-intensity dental lasers to ease the pain linked to cold lesions and minimise the healing period.
What Are The Pros & Cons Of Using Lasers In Dentistry?
- It provides better results with gum treatments while preserving your teeth longer
- It speeds up the healing process after procedures such as extraction, contouring, or root canals
- Nervous patients no longer have to use anaesthesia in various procedures
- Bleeding and swelling is minimised during soft tissue laser treatments
- Healthier teeth are preserved during cavity removal
- Causes less pain in most cases
- Since laser treatment is less invasive, it minimises damage to the surrounding tissue
- Wounds heal faster, and the tissues can be regenerated
- Lasers cannot be used on teeth which already have dental fillings in place
- It is not suitable for various conventional dental procedures such as removing silver fillings, defective crowns or preparing teeth for bridges. You also can’t use it to fill cavities around old fillings, between teeth or large cavities that need to be prepared for a crown.
- Lasers do not eliminate the need for anaesthesia
- Laser treatment is more expensive than traditional dental treatment
- You may still need traditional drills to adjust the bit, shape and polish the filling even after the laser has been used
The Future of Dental Lasers
Laser technology has been used in various types of medical procedures for years but has only been adopted by the dental industry since 1990. As more people continue to embrace the use of laser dentistry, the procedures may soon become more comfortable, efficient and even quicker.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Laser Dental Treatment?
As long as a certified dental professional administers your treatment with the right know-how, the use of laser technology in dental treatment is safe. However, looking directly into the laser light with your bare eyes is not recommended. Your dentist should provide a set of specialised protective eyewear during the procedure.
How Can I Be Sure My Dentist Is Adequately Trained To Use A Laser?
Before undertaking the procedure, take the time to ask the dentist about the extent of their laser education and training. Make sure that they have participated in the relevant education courses and has received training from the manufacturer.
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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.
Featured Image Source: DentalNews.com
Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics