Although a lot of people haven’t heard of it, laser dentistry has been around for decades. Lasers have been used in medical procedures since 1962 when a dermatologist called Leo Goldman started using them to remove unwanted tattoos. The first application of lasers in dental surgery was in 1989.
Lasers are extremely focused light beams that can be used to remove small amounts of hard and soft tissue. In dental laser surgery, they are used in a variety of procedures, both cosmetic, such as teeth whitening, and medical.
Although they are not suitable for all dental procedures, lasers are effective in treating a wide range of issues, mostly related to the gums. These include:
• Pain relief from a canker or cold sores
• Benign tumor removal
• Gum reshaping
• Extracting samples for biopsies
• Gum disease treatment
• Treating gum inflammation
• Cleaning root canal infections
• Removing excess throat tissue that can cause sleep apnea
• Nerve regeneration
• Uncovering wisdom teeth
• Preparing cavities for filling
Not only are lasers more precise than traditional scalpels, but the procedure is also much less invasive and offers many benefits to both the dentist and the patient.
• Shorter recovery time after surgery
• Less damage to the gums
• Less chance of infection as the laser sterilizes the gums.
• Less bleeding during and after the procedure
• Lower levels of anesthesia used
• No drill noises or vibrations
• Less scarring
• Lasers are not suitable for use on teeth with metal fillings
• Lasers can’t be used for all procedures
• Anesthesia and/or sedation is usually still required
• There is a risk of gum or tooth pulp damage if used incorrectly
Even though dental laser procedures are similar to traditional procedures, you’ll still need to sit in the chair with your mouth open. However, the reduced noise levels, absence of drill vibrations, and a relatively small amount of bleeding they cause make them much more comfortable and less nerve-wracking. And while you still need to follow the dentist’s instructions for care and cleaning during the post-op period, this is considerably shorter than in traditional surgery.
Lasers can be used both on hard and soft tissue but each requires a different type. Different tissues require different light wavelengths to cut through them. This means that a procedure on the gum, which is composed of soft tissue, will necessitate a different type of laser than that used on the teeth, composed of hard tissue.
1. Soft Tissue Lasers
The wavelength of soft tissue lasers is easily absorbed by water and hemoglobin, a molecule found in your blood. These means they can easily cut and reshape the soft tissue of the gums and throat. They also seal the blood vessels as they cut, which is why there is a lot less blood than with traditional surgery and healing times are faster. These lasers are typically used for:
• Treating restricted tongue movement by cutting and reducing the frenulum (the skin under the front of the tongue that attaches it to the floor of the mouth)
• Crown lengthening
• Cosmetic gum reshaping
• Removing excess folds of flesh from the mouth
2. Hard Tissue Lasers
These are used laser dentistry for cavities and procedures on the teeth. Their wavelength cuts through water and calcium phosphate, the main ingredient in the bone. They allow the dentist to very accurately remove small amounts of hard tissue to reshape your teeth or prepare them for other procedures. They are typically used for:
• Treating tooth sensitivity
• Detecting cavities
• Preparing cavities for filling
• Tooth reshaping
Laser surgery is just one of the many options in oral health care we offer here at Doral Sedation Dentistry, so contact us today and we’ll recommend the best treatment for you.