What is Laser Dentistry?
Laser dentistry is often used in combination with traditional dental treatments to reduce patient discomfort and provide more precise results. Different types of lasers are used to reshape enamel and gum tissue as well as enhance the effectiveness of smile whitening gel.
Laser dentistry is a field that’s been expanding rapidly since the FDA cleared the first dental laser for use in the 1980s. Today, lasers are used for many different dental treatments.
- Those that vaporize hard or soft tissue in the mouth (enamel, dentin, gums, bone, etc.)
- Those that emit light in a specific wavelength to create a chemical reaction
Laser Dentistry Benefits
Laser dentistry offers many benefits over traditional dentistry treatment such as:
- Little need for anesthetic
- Faster treatment time
- Reduction in infections
- Decrease in damage to surrounding tissue
- Little or no bleeding
- Less post-operative pain
- Ability to work on multiple parts of the mouth in a single session
Laser Dentistry Treatment
Cavity Preparation – Dental lasers are commonly used to remove decayed tooth tissue and then prepare cavities for filling. Some of the proposed benefits of laser cavity preparation include:
- No shrill, drilling noise
- Less tooth sensitivity
- Faster treatment
- Preservation of more healthy tooth structure
- Less risk for harm to pulp at the center of the tooth (only with lasers that don’t generate too much heat during use)
The level of benefit varies depending on the size and location of the cavity as well as the individual patient. For example, some patients don’t require a local anesthetic with laser dentistry while others will still need to have the treatment area numbed to ensure comfort. Often, lasers limit the amount of traditional drilling necessary rather than replace the drill completely. In addition, dental lasers can’t help with every type of restorative dental preparation.
Periodontal Disease – Root planing and scaling, removal of bacteria and infected tissue from periodontal pockets, surgical reshaping of the gum to reduce the size and depth of periodontal pockets and promote reattachment of the gum to the tooth root.
Gum Recontouring – Fixing gummy smiles, creating a more symmetrical gum line and preparing the gum line for crown placement.
Oral Surgeries including:
- Root canals (pulpotomy, apicoectomy, etc.)
- Frenectomy (a corrective procedure for “tongue-tied” patients)
- Invasive TMJ surgeries that involve reshaping cartilage or bone
- Biopsy to diagnose oral cancer
- Removal of benign oral tumors and other lesions
- Pain reduction for cold sores and canker sores
What Does Laser Dentistry Not Treat?
- Teeth that already contain fillings
- Cavities located between teeth (this is a common problem with molars)
- Teeth that require significant tissue removal in preparation for a crown or bridge