Lasers in Dentistry

LASERS ARE THE FUTURE

I bought my first dental laser in 2008. I thought it was the coolest thing to be able to reshape gums with it or cut away a growth for a biopsy.

I have since purchased several other lasers. Each laser offers a different wavelength guided by a sophisticated computer to enable different procedures. Some lasers are best for cutting soft tissues such as gums, cheeks, and tongue. Other lasers are best for working on hard tissues such as teeth and bone. There are a few lasers that can cut both types of tissues, but remain cost prohibitive for most general use applications(more than $120,000 initially plus ongoing costs). There is also photobiomodulation – a technique of using low level light energy (cold laser) that does not cut at all, but is used to stimulate faster healing in the body.

WHY USE LASERS?

Lasers slowly cut away diseased tissue in a way that triggers less inflammatory response from the body than scalpel or drill. Lasers sterilize the area because they destroy good and bad cells alike as they cut, thus bacteria and viruses are destroyed in the process. The power and effectiveness of harnessing different light energies is truly amazing. Scientists are still researching the best wavelengths and power outputs for numerous applications.

PAIN FREE?

Not yet…We recently used a very high end laser in our office for 9 months. While the manufacturer claimed there was no need for anesthetic, our experience was that this was true for only about half of the patients. The other half of patients very much would have appreciated numbing first. We deemed this to be not good enough and have discontinued its use without anesthetic. We want our patients to be able to relax and not worry that they will feel pain midway through a procedure.

CONCLUSION

Lasers should eventually replace the drill and scalpel for most if not all dental procedures, however, the cost of this technology needs to come down considerably before it can see widespread adoption. We will continue to keep a close eye on the laser market and adopt the technologies that make the most sense for our patients’ welfare.

For more information on lasers, call Dr. Bass at 919-362-6789.

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