Laser dentistry is the use of lasers to treat a number of different dental conditions. It became commercially used in clinical dental practice for procedures involving tooth tissue in 1989. Laser dentistry potentially offers a more comfortable treatment option for a number of dental procedures involving hard or soft tissue compared to drills and other non-laser tools.
LASER stands for “light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation.” The instrument creates light energy in a very narrow and focused beam. This laser light produces a reaction when it hits tissue, allowing it to remove or shape the tissue.Lasers can make dental treatments more efficient, and comfortable in some cases.
Laser dentistry may be used in a variety of procedures, including:
- Treating hypersensitivity
- Treating tooth decay
- Treating gum disease
- Whitening teeth
How are laser treatments performed?
The two main types of procedures used for laser dentistry are hard tissue and soft tissue procedures. Hard tissue refers to the teeth, and soft tissue refers to the gums.
Common hard tissue procedures include:
- Cavity detection. Lasers can detect cavities early by finding evidence of tooth decay.
- Tooth preparations and dental fillings. Local anesthesia and traditional drills are often not needed with laser treatments. Lasers can kill bacteria in a cavity, which can aid in the long-term health of a tooth.
- Treating tooth sensitivity. Teeth that have sensitivity to hot and cold can be treated with dental lasers that seal tubules on the tooth’s root.
Common soft tissue procedures include:
- Treating a “gummy smile.” Lasers are used to reshape gum tissue associated with “gummy smile,” in which the gums’ length covers much of the tooth.
- Crown lengthening. This procedure reshapes both gum tissue and bone for healthier tooth structure, which helps with placing restorations on the teeth.
- Treating tongue frenulum attachment. Those with a thick or tight frenulum (the fold of skin under the front part of tongue that anchors to the mouth floor) may benefit from a laser frenectomy. This treatment helps children whose restricted frenulum causes them to be tongue-tied, have difficulty breastfeeding, or have a speech impediment.
- Removing soft tissue folds. Lasers can remove soft tissue folds from ill-fitting dentures without pain or sutures.
What types of lasers are used?
Dental professionals use either hard tissue or soft tissue lasers, depending on the treatment. Some will use both types if the treatment allows.
Hard tissue lasers can cut through tooth structure. Their wavelengths are absorbed through the combination of water and a specific mineral found in teeth. These lasers are most often used to prep or shape teeth for composite bonding, to repair dental fillings that have worn down, and to remove some tooth structure.
Benefits of using laser dentistry
- There is potentially a decreased need for sutures with soft tissue lasers.
- Bleeding is minimized in treated soft tissues, as the laser promotes blood clotting.
- With some procedures, anesthesia is unnecessary.
- The chance for bacterial infections is lower because the laser sterilizes the area.
- Wounds can heal faster, and it’s possible for tissue to regenerate.
- The procedures may involve less damage to the surrounding tissues.
- Soft tissue lasers can be absorbed through water and hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells.
- Soft tissue lasers seal nerve endings and blood vessels while they penetrate the tissue. For this reason, many experiences almost no pain after laser treatment. The lasers also promote faster healing of the tissue.
Disadvantages of laser dentistry
- Lasers can’t be used on teeth that already have certain types of filling, such as metal amalgam.
- Some laser procedures still require anesthesia.
- Drills are still sometimes needed to complete fillings, including shaping, adjusting the bite, and polishing the filling.
- Certain procedures can’t be done with laser treatment, depending on the pre-existing surrounding tissue or components involving the tooth or gums.
Our RESTORE specialists strongly recommend that every person needs to be assessed on a case by case basis and will only recommend Laser dentistry if they feel their use will be beneficial to the patient.
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