The Transformation of Dentistry Through Use of Lasers
- Posted on: Apr 25 2015
What do you imagine when you think about a trip to the dentist?
Chances are you do not picture yourself having anything close to a spa-like experience? However the introduction of lasers in dentistry may be turning a once potentially dreaded life necessity into a very pleasant and even perhaps enjoyed experience. Let’s explore how lasers were introduced, their early uses and where dentistry is headed now. *Hint: if you like the sound of a spa treatment for your mouth, you may like where this is headed.
What exactly is a laser?
Let’s start with the basics. The term LASER is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. This essentially means that a laser creates an intense beam of light energy controlled to create a planned reaction when it comes into contact with a specified target. The reaction is caused by the target absorbing the light energy created by the laser. In the case of medical and dental use, the “something” is tissue so the laser beam is controlled to remove or reshape the tissue as appropriate.
The first use of a laser in dentistry is documented in 1960, but since about 1990 lasers have been used regularly to treat a variety of oral health issues. Often the laser is used in conjunction with additional instruments to provide a variety of applications for hard and soft tissue in a safe and effective way.
Examples of how lasers have been used for hard tissue treatments include tooth tooth decay prevention, bleaching, cavity preparation, and tooth sensitivity. Soft tissue treatments include healing wounds or canker sores, removing gum tissue as needed, and exposing partially erupted wisdom teeth.
What types of lasers are used?
Lasers used in dental practices vary based on the specificity of the lasing substance or type of gas used and the needed results. The laser type is named for the material found at the center of the device, such as a gas, a crystal, or a solid-state semi-conductor. Carbon dioxide is a commonly used gas based laser type, known for its ability to remove soft tissue.
What are the benefits of lasers?
The quick story is that using lasers for dental treatments can require less time and less discomfort for the patient. Quick and painless procedures that even may not require anesthesia to be administered are a big advantage to most patients. Traditionally more complicated procedures can be done in a much simpler and less invasive way, ultimately improving the patient experience and the treatment outcome. Laser procedures also allow the dentist to be more precise and potentially lessen the recovery time required. Faster treatment with less pain and less disruption to the patient’s mouth is always the goal. The laser brings dentistry this much closer to achieving it.
Additionally the safety of the laser use, when used by a properly trained practitioner, is equal to other dental instruments. Appropriate precautions are required, such as having patients use protective eye wear, and like most things, the procedures being done improve with the number of times they have been performed.
It is important to always talk with your dentist about laser treatment options thoroughly when you are exploring any required treatments. The introduction of laser technology to dentistry is putting patients on a path to less invasive procedures which when combined with healthy oral health habits, make taking care of our teeth easier than ever.
Nearly 30 Years of Dental Expertise
Dr. Hugh Flax has a passion for practicing dentistry. He takes great pleasure in changing patients’ lives through their smiles. He received his degree in dentistry at Emory University and began Flax Dental in 1987. Outside the office, Dr. Flax loves music, New Orleans, traveling and more music. Follow Flax Dental on Twitter and Facebook.
Posted in: Comfortable Dental Care