For all those anxious people who fear going to the dentist, there is good news in the form of “laser dentistry,” which is quickly growing in popularity among the dental fraternity, as well as the patients, as it is rapidly enhancing the dental procedures, making them more effective, quicker to perform, and much more comfortable and painless. There are many dentists today who have incorporated laser dentistry techniques for precise dental care and treatments. “It is estimated that 6 percent of general dentists own a laser for soft-tissue applications, with that number expected to increase over time.” As more dentists embrace this technology in their offices, its cost will decrease further.
Understanding Lasers and Its History
Laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and is a device for generating a high-intensity, ostensibly parallel beam of monochromatic (single wavelength) electromagnetic radiation. It works by emitting light that delivers quick pulses of heat energy to the treatment area. In dentistry, different wavelengths are used depending upon the type of tissue being treated. Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: Wikimedia Commons
Therefore, laser dentistry can be a very precise and effective way to perform many dental procedures depending upon the dentist’s skill, which involves controlling the power output and duration of exposure on the tissue, thereby allowing the treatment of a highly specific area of focus without damaging the surrounding tissues.
It was Albert Einstein who first theorized about the process called "Stimulated Emission," which makes lasers possible, in the year 1917. Thereafter, the word “laser” was first used by Gordon Gould, a doctoral student at Columbia University under Charles Townes, the inventor of the maser.
In 1964, Kumar Patel invented the Carbon Dioxide Laser (CO2), which was the first gas laser to produce high power radiation continuously. This invention proved to be the most useful in the field of science and today has brought about more major breakthroughs, due to its diverse practical applications in the field of medicine and industry, than any other type of laser.
Although it was in 1960 that laser was developed and sanctioned for soft tissue procedures, the use of lasers in dental procedures (gums) first gained approval by the FDA or Food and Drug Administration in only the early 1990s and was soon followed by its application on hard tissues like bone and teeth in the year 1996. In 1997, FDA approved the erbium YAG laser for the treatment of sustained tooth decay, on dentin. Since then, laser dentistry has seen many more improvements and has widened its scope of applications.
Application Of Laser Dentistry
Laser dentistry utilizes a high-energy beam for the treatment of hard and soft tissues in the oral cavity and can be used for cosmetic dentistry procedures as well. The technique is precise, less invasive, faster, painless, patient recovers faster and also negates the use of sutures (stitches) or anesthesia when compared to traditional dentistry and the application of drills.
There are two types of lasers approved by the FDA, one for the soft tissue procedures (gums) and one for the hard tissue procedures (teeth). These can be used for treatments in both children and adults.
Laser Dental equipment : http://www.kavo.com/Default.aspx?navid=27&oid=002&lid=en
Image shows the latest KEY Laser 3+ from Kavo.
Hard tissue lasers have a wavelength that is highly absorbable by the hydroxyapatite and water, thereby making them more effective in cutting tooth structure. Hard tissue lasers include Erbium YAG and the Erbium chromium YSGG.
Soft Tissue Lasers have a wavelength that is highly absorbable by water and hemoglobin, thereby making them more effective in soft tissue management. The common soft tissue lasers used are Nd: YAG and diode lasers, which have the ability to kill bacteria and activate the re-growth of tissues thereby facilitating its use in periodontal treatment.
(Planned incision in a low-power intermittent mode allows for greater control for incision placement. Image Courtsey : Dr Anisha Maria, Prof. Dept of Oral Surgery, Modern Dental College and Research Centre, Indore.)
There are many uses of lasers in the field of dentistry.
- Detect early cavities
- Cavity removal
- Teeth whitening
- Cosmetic Dentistry
- Gum reshaping
- To seal tubules which decreases and/or eliminates the uncomfortable sensitivity of teeth.
- Can be used for hardening bonding materials used in fillings
- To remove bacteria from periodontal pockets
- Minimise bleeding in surgical procedures
- Minimise bacterial infections during surgical procedures as the high-energy beam has a sterilizing effect on the area worked on.
- Dental lasers may be used to quickly reduce pain and inflammation of the temporomandibular jaw joint.
- Dental lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of benign tumours from the gums, palate, sides of cheeks and lips.
- Low intensity dental lasers reduce pain associated with cold sores and minimize healing time.
- Photobiomodulation can be used to regenerate damaged nerves, blood vessels and scars.
- Optical Coherence Tomography is a safer way to see inside tooth and gums in real time.
Laser applications in the field of dentistry allow dentists a wide variety of dental procedures that may not have been possible otherwise, and they are now able to incorporate a state-of-the-art precision technology into a number of common and not-so-common dental procedures. Lasers have quickly become indispensable in the field of dental surgery as a modality for the treatment of soft tissue surgery. They not only allow surgeons to enhance current surgical options for treatment, but also have contributed to the evolution of a variety of new procedures. With further development of newer, more versatile, and more specifically-absorbed laser wavelengths, new clinical applications will undoubtedly arise.
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Original article posted on Xomba..