A dental laser is a type of laser designed specifically for use in oral surgery or dentistry. In the United States, the use of lasers on the gums was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the early 1990s, and use on hard tissue like teeth or the bone of the mandible gained approval in 1996. Several variants of dental laser are in use, with the most common being diode lasers, carbon dioxide lasers, and yttrium aluminium garnet laser. Different lasers use different wavelengths and these mean they are better suited for different applications. For example, diode lasers in the 810–900 nm range are well absorbed by red colored tissues such as the gingivae increasingly being used in place of electrosurgery and standard surgery for soft tissue applications such as tissue contouring and gingivectomy Use of the dental laser remains limited, with cost and effectiveness being the primary barriers. Dental lasers are not without their benefits, though, as the use of a laser can decrease morbidity after surgery, and reduces the need for anesthetics. Because of the cauterisation of tissue there will be little bleeding following soft tissue procedures, and some of the risks of alternative electrosurgery procedures are avoided.
What is a laser and how does it work?
A laser is an instrument that produces a very narrow, intense beam of light energy. When laser light comes in contact with tissue, it causes a reaction. The light produced by the laser can remove or shape tissue.
Are lasers used in dentistry?
Yes, lasers have been used in dentistry since 1990. Lasers can be used as a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of dental procedures and are often used in conjunction with other dental instruments.
How are lasers used in dentistry?
Dental lasers can be used to:
- reduce the discomfort of canker and cold sores.
- expose partially erupted wisdom teeth.
- remove muscle attachments that limit proper movement.
- manage gum tissue during impressions for crowns or other procedures.
- remove overgrown tissues caused by certain medications.
- perform biopsy procedures.
- remove inflamed gum tissues and aid in the treatment of gum disease.
- remove or reshape gum and bone tissues during crown lengthening procedures.
- help treat infections in root canals.
- speed up tooth whitening procedures.
What are the benefits of using dental lasers?
There are several advantages. Dentists may not need to use a drill or administer anesthesia in some procedures, allowing the patient to enjoy a more relaxed dental experience. Laser procedures can be more precise. Also, lasers can reduce symptoms and healing times associated with traditional therapies; reduce the amount of bacteria in both diseased gum tissue and in tooth cavities; and control bleeding during surgery.
Are dental lasers safe?
If the dental laser is used according to accepted practices by a trained practitioner, then it is at least as safe as other dental instruments. However, just as you wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from prolonged exposure to the sun, when your dentist performs a laser procedure, you will be asked to wear special eyeglasses to protect your eyes from the laser.
How will I know if treatment with a dental laser is an option for me?
Ask your dentist. Although the laser is a very useful dental instrument, it is not appropriate for every dental procedure.
Laser dentistry has several benefits, including:
- Reduced Pain: Dental lasers cause virtually no pain, so anesthesia may not even be necessary for certain procedures.
- Reduced Anxiety: Laser dentistry is a great alternative to several other dental instruments if you feel anxious or uncomfortable with drills and sharp objects.
- Less Damage: Because the power output can be controlled and the duration of exposure on the tissue can be adjusted, dental lasers allow specific areas of treatment focus without damaging surrounding tissue.
- Quick Recovery: Dental lasers allow wounds to heal faster and can even regenerate tissue.
- Fewer Infections: The high-energy beam sterilizes the area, minimizing the risk of bacterial infection.
- No Sutures: Lasers cause virtually no bleeding and even aids in clotting when it does, so most laser procedures may not require stitches.
Dental lasers have a wide variety of uses. Depending on what they're needed for, dental lasers can be used to heat, cut, vaporize, or strengthen. They can be used on hard tissue (teeth and bone) and soft tissue (gums).