Posts for tag: laser dentistry
Root canal treatments are an essential part of dental care — countless teeth with deep decay would be lost each year without it. Now, this traditional dental care procedure is advancing to a new level of precision through lasers.
Root canal treatments have a simple goal: access a tooth's infected pulp and root canals, clean out the infected tissue and fill the empty pulp chamber and canals with a special filling. Once filled, the access is sealed and a porcelain crown later placed for additional protection against re-infection.
In the traditional procedure, we perform these steps manually with a dental drill and hand instruments. We may also need to remove a good portion of tooth structure, both healthy and infected tissue. A laser, on the other hand, is a highly focused beam of light with the ability to interact with healthy and infected tissues differently: destroying infected tissue while having no effect on nearby healthy tissue. The end result: we may be able to remove less healthy tissue with lasers than with the conventional procedure.
Lasers are also helpful with softening and precisely molding the filling material within each canal's particular shape. And, early reports seem to indicate a higher degree of comfort for patients (less drill noise and need for anesthesia), less bleeding and faster recovery times than the conventional approach.
But as a tool for root canal treatments, lasers do have a couple of disadvantages. While light travels in a straight line, root canals are rarely straight — conventional instruments with curved designs usually accommodate odd canal shapes better than a laser. Lasers can also raise temperatures within a tooth that can damage healthy tissue, both within the pulp and outward into the dentin.
Still, lasers for root canal treatments appear promising with some dentists using a combination of lasers and manual techniques to garner benefits from both approaches. While you won't see lasers replacing the traditional root canal treatment anytime soon, the future looks bright for more efficient ways to treat deep tooth decay.
Lasers have transformed our everyday lives, especially in healthcare. These intense beams of light of a single wavelength have revolutionized all manner of diagnostics and treatments, from general surgery to cosmetic therapy.
Dentistry has also been influenced by the laser revolution. Here are just a few of the areas where they’re growing in use and popularity.
Early disease detection. Laser instruments can take advantage of “fluorescence,” the tendency of bacteria to “glow” when exposed to certain wavelengths of light. This is proving more effective in detecting early tooth decay in pits and fissures (very tiny areas in a tooth’s biting surface) than traditional needle-like probing instruments called dental explorers. Newer lasers can now detect the same fluorescent qualities in soft tissues, which may reduce the detection time for oral cancer and make the difference between life and death.
Dental caries treatment. Lasers have become an alternative to the dental drill in treating teeth with dental caries (decay). Although with larger cavities lasers are somewhat slower than the conventional drill, they truly shine when it comes to early enamel caries and small cavities because they can be quite precise in the amount of tooth structure they remove. This feature allows them to be less invasive than a dental drill.
Periodontal treatment. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection caused mainly by bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) that have adhered to tooth surfaces. Lasers are emerging as an alternative to conventional periodontal (gum) surgery to treat voids or spaces below the gum line called periodontal pockets that have formed because of gum tissue detachment as supporting bone is lost. With their ability to target and destroy infected tissue without damaging nearby healthy tissue, lasers can achieve similar outcomes as traditional techniques but with less tissue damage and discomfort to patients afterward.
Research and development into laser technology continues to perfect these and other applications that promise to make dental procedures less invasive and more comfortable for patients.
For years, lasers have revolutionized the medical industry and now they are beginning to do the same within the field of dentistry. However, anytime new technologies are introduced, people naturally will have questions. Here is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
What is a laser?
Lasers are beams of light that are a single wavelength and color. Laser is an acronym derived from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”
How are they different from regular sunlight?
White light is made up of light with many wavelengths corresponding to the visible spectrum comprising the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). Laser light consists of beams of a single color and hence a single wavelength of light, concentrated to a high energy level, which can penetrate living tissue.
How are they used in dentistry?
Dental laser usage typically falls into three categories: disease diagnosis; soft tissue procedures of the gums, lips and tongue; and hard tissue procedures of the bone or tooth enamel and dentin. Examples of the most common hard tissue treatments include the diagnosis and removal of tooth decay, while the most common soft tissue treatments include the removal of gum tissue as it relates to cosmetic dentistry and the treatment of gum disease.
Are they safe?
Absolutely! Before blazing a trail in the field of dentistry, lasers have been used for years in the medical field with research evidence and the FDA approving both their safety and efficacy. In fact, they are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding and less discomfort for patients after surgery. And what could be better than that?
Want to learn more?
We pride ourselves on using the latest, scientifically proven technologies so that we can obtain and maintain optimal oral health for our patients. The word “laser” is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and, within the world of dentistry, lasers are used for a variety of procedures and therapies. Simply put, this means that light from a particular crystalline source is stimulated electronically and by the use of mirrors to high energy levels, which can penetrate living tissue. Specific lasers with different light emitting capabilities can be used in dentistry — some on hard tissues and others for soft tissues like gum and oral mucous (skin) membranes within the mouth. Uses include diagnosing cavities, others for removing diseased gum tissues, for example. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery. For example, using a laser, allows preparation of smaller cavities for fillings by vaporizing away tooth decay often without any anesthesia (numbing of the teeth) or a drill.
For many people, when they hear the term “laser,” they immediately envision a futuristic science fiction movie. However, did you know that lasers have been used in the medical industry for years? Furthermore, this revolutionary technology is now beginning to do the same within the field of dentistry.
Lasers get their name from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and are literally beams of light that have a single wavelength. Unlike traditional white light or daylight that is a continuum of light with many wavelengths corresponding to the visible spectrum or rainbow, a laser light beam is just a single color.
Dental laser usage typically falls into three categories: disease diagnosis; soft tissue procedures of the gums, lips, and tongue; and hard tissue procedures of the bone or tooth enamel and dentin. For example, common uses include diagnosing cavities, treating disease, and removing both diseased gum tissues and tooth structure, as in decay. They were first used in dentistry for soft tissue surgery such as gum line reshaping procedures and tissue testing (biopsies). In 1997, dentists started using them for removing decay and preparing the tooth enamel and dentin in preparation for fillings. More recently, dentists are using lasers to help detect and diagnose dental disease, as they are especially helpful in identifying dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. Thus they have been used for removing both malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) lesions in some cases.
As you now see, laser dentistry is an important tool we use at our office to provide our patients with optimal dental care and treatments. And if you want to learn more about laser dentistry, read the article “Lasers Shine A Light On Dentistry.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to see if laser dentistry is right for you, contact us today.