Q: What dental procedures do you depend on your lasers for the most?
A: I now have lasers and techniques to treat periodontal (gum) disease in a minimally invasive way. Other lasers remove decay and prepare cavities for tooth-colored, bonded restorations. Numerous procedures for surgical, restorative and cosmetic care are also performed using lasers.
Q: What is a laser and how does it work?
A: Dental lasers use a beam of light. The beam is amplified light energy. Energy is produced in the resonator, directed through the fiber-optic system, moves to the tip of the laser handpiece and then precisely onto biologic tissue. All this is done at the speed of light. This contact creates a thermal interaction. Different lasers operate at specific wavelengths of light and have different affects on gum tissue, tooth enamel and decay.
Q: What is the one procedure that most dentists should use a laser for but don’t?
A: I don’t do any soft-tissue procedures without the use of a dental laser. A soft-tissue laser (for example, a Nd: YAG) uses a no-cut, non-bleeding, no-stitches, laser technique to remove diseased tissues, stop infection and allow the body to heal itself. Soft-tissue lasers are used to treat gum disease (periodontitis/gingivitis).The most important technique I developed 15 years ago was using a laser to stop bleeding after all extractions. This two-minute technique for hemostasis allows the patient to continue blood-thinning medications and still have bleeding stopped before leaving the office. All patients leave without gauze in their mouths, and this stable healing technique has almost eliminated dry sockets. I don’t get calls in the evening from patients who are still bleeding. There are fewer complications and there is less follow-up treatment.
Q: Are lasers safe?
A: In the hands of trained clinicians, lasers are as safe as any other dental instrument. The FDA has approved laser use for children and adults. As a precaution, you will be required to wear specially treated eyeglasses during treatment to protect your eyes from inadvertent laser light beam exposure.
Q: What are the advantages of the laser versus the dental drill?
A: Using the precise control of the laser, decay can be removed while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible, perfect for tooth-colored filling technology. This results in no vibrations, no drill sounds and minimal or no pain. The need for anesthetic is eliminated (no shots) in most cases.
The laser’s use in treatment allows for comparable end results to more traditional and conventional therapies. Successful results in dentistry are possible using different methods. Laser periodontal therapy and laser cavity preparation are two types of alternative, less invasive treatments.
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