What is Laser Dentistry?
Laser dentistry involves the use of lasers for dental treatments. As opposed to the traditional drills used by dental professionals, lasers offer a quick way to perform dental procedures with less recovery time for the patient.
All lasers work by delivering energy in the form of focused light. When used for dental procedures, the laser acts as a cutting instrument or a vaporizer of tissue with which it comes in contact. When used for teeth whitening, the laser acts as a heat source, enhancing the effect of tooth-bleaching agents.
The Types of Lasers Used in Dentistry
The two main types of lasers dentists use to treat dental conditions are hard tissue and soft tissue lasers. Each kind of tissue absorbs wavelengths of light differently, so each laser uses a different wavelength that makes it appropriate for cutting into that specific type of tissue.
A hard tissue laser is used primarily for teeth. The wavelength of these lasers cuts through both water and bone, specifically the calcium phosphate in bones and teeth. These lasers can very accurately cut into teeth to facilitate certain dental procedures.
Soft tissue lasers are ideal for cutting into soft tissue and sealing the exposed blood vessels simultaneously. As a result, patients don’t bleed very much during soft tissue procedures, and healing is quicker after treatment. Soft tissue lasers are also great for cosmetic procedures because patients can begin to see results right away.
Benefits of Laser Dentistry
Laser dentistry offers distinct benefits:
- Patients are less likely to require sutures
- Anesthesia may not be necessary
- The laser will kill bacteria and sterilize the gums, making infection less likely
- Less damage to gums shortens the healing time
- Patients lose less blood than traditional surgery
- May reduce anxiety in patients uncomfortable with the use of a dental drill
- May preserve more healthy tooth during cavity removal
- No vibration or noise during procedures, unlike dental drills
What Procedures Are Performed with Laser Dentistry?
Laser dentistry is an innovation that makes many treatments possible and others more comfortable. These are a few of the ways we use lasers in our dental practice:
- Eliminate hypersensitivity: Lasers can be used to seal tubules on the roots of your teeth, instantly treating sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
- Treat gum disease: Lasers can remove infected tissue causing periodontal (gum) disease. While lasers cannot completely prevent gum recession or disease from occurring, they can be used to lessen infections in your mouth, thereby also reducing your chances of tooth decay.
- Remove excessive gum tissue: Those with a “gummy” smile can benefit from laser procedures. Lasers can remove and reshape gum tissue, exposing more of your teeth and improving the appearance of your smile.
- Removing tumors: Patients with benign mouth tumors can undergo laser dentistry to remove growths safely and quickly.
- Biopsy. Lasers can be used to remove a small piece of tissue (called a biopsy) so that it can be examined for cancer.
- Canker sore relief. Lasers can relieve the pain of canker sores.
- Whitening: Lasers can boost the bleaching process when you get your teeth whitened professionally.
- Cavity detection: Similar to x-rays, lasers can be used to help detect tooth cavities.
- Preparing teeth for dental fillings. Lasers can remove decay and prepare enamel to receive a filling.
- Root canal treatments. Lasers can help shape gums and clean bacteria during a root canal.
- Muscle attachment improvements.
- Regenerate nerves.
- Sleep apnea treatments.
Patients can expect their post-operative experience after laser dentistry will likely be smoother than after traditional surgery. Because a laser causes far less bleeding than a scalpel, the site of your surgery will bleed much less when you get home, and wound, healing will occur more quickly.
While you should still follow cleaning and care instructions to the letter, you’re less likely to get an infection. You also won’t typically experience the post-op pain and discomfort associated with scalpel surgery; post-op irritation after laser surgery is likely to be minor.