Cosmetic Dentistry Technology Dental Lasers

Dental lasers are a new dental technology used to diagnose and perform dental procedures. Dental laser technology has the ability to improve patients’ health by making conventional dental procedures faster and more precise. Because of its many benefits, laser dentistry has increased in popularity among dentists in the last few years.

How Dental Lasers Work

A dental laser works by boiling the water in the body’s cells, which causes the cells to burst. Because dental lasers work at a cellular level, a dental laser is more accurate than a scalpel or drill.

Different wavelengths determine whether dental lasers are used on hard tissue like teeth or soft tissue like gums. The main two categories of lasers in dentistry are:

  • hard tissue lasers: Hard tissue lasers penetrate bone and teeth without damaging more tissue than necessary. These lasers target bone and teeth by employing wavelengths that are easily absorbed by calcium phosphate, an organic compound found in bone and teeth. Hard tissue lasers include the Erbium Chromium YSGG and the Erbium YAG.
  • soft tissue lasers: Soft tissue lasers penetrate tissue while simultaneously sealing blood vessels and nerve endings. Because soft tissue lasers do not damage the tissue, wounds heal faster after surgery and may not require sutures. Soft tissue lasers are effective because they use a wavelength that is absorbed by water and hemoglobin, which is found in soft tissue. Common soft tissue lasers include the Carbon-dioxide lasers and the Neodymium YAG.

Dental Laser Uses

Lasers in dentistry have many uses, including:

  • cavity removal
  • gum reshaping
  • hardening bonding materials in fillings
  • removing bacteria from periodontal pockets
  • teeth whitening.

Dentists have managed to incorporate lasers in dentistry to improve dental treatments. Improvements include:

  • cavity detection: Using a low-powered dental laser, dentists are able to detect tiny at-risk pits within tooth enamel. After pits are located, they are filled-in with clear sealant, helping to prevent cavities.
  • muscle attachment: Dentists use dental lasers to perform a laser frenectomy, a procedure ideal for tongue-tied children and babies unable to breast feed due to limited tongue movement.
  • nerve regeneration: Dentists use lasers for photobiomudulation, a procedure that can regenerate damaged nerves and blood vessels.
  • tooth sensitivity: Dentists use a laser in dentistry to seal tubules, tiny receptors located on the root of the tooth that are responsible for hot and cold tooth sensitivity.

Pros and Cons of Dental Lasers

Lasers have many advantages over techniques used in conventional dentistry. Dental laser advantages include:

  • greater precision
  • less recovery time
  • no anesthesia (e.g., dental lasers vaporize cavities, a virtually painless procedure).

However, along with higher costs, dental lasers do have some associated disadvantages, which primarily revolve around the fact that they can’t be used in certain procedures. Dental lasers are not appropriate for:

  • replacing amalgam fillings
  • replacing crowns
  • replacing onlays.

Because of their many benefits and few drawbacks, most patients prefer laser dentistry. In fact, laser dentistry encourages patients who would otherwise avoid the dentist to seek treatment, since they no longer have to fear painful procedures.

As the knowledge of laser dentistry increases and the cost of dental lasers decreases, more uses for lasers in dentistry are being developed. Soon, the traditional dental drill and scalpel may be rendered obsolete.

Resources

Einstein Medical (2006). Laser Dentistry. Retrieved April 13, 2008, from the DocShop.com Web site.

Ranft, Lesley (2008). Laser Dentistry: Enhancing Dental Treatment with Lasers. Retrieved April 13, 2008, from the Your Dentist Guide Web site.

Ranft, Lesley (2008). The Future of Dentist Lasers. Retrieved April 13, 2008, from the Your Dentist Guide Web site.