Laser dentistry has changed the way many dentists treat a lot of dental conditions. First introduced back in 1989, it has slowly become the treatment of choice for many soft tissue treatments. It is a far more comfortable treatment as it heals and seals soft tissue as we work. It can also be used for many hard tissue procedures. Here we review everything you need to know about laser dentistry and the conditions it can treat.
What is laser dentistry?
LASER stands for “Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Instead of using traditional tools to cut tissue, the lasers use light energy to create a highly focused laser beam. When the light comes into contact with tissue, it cuts safely and painlessly without bleeding, allowing us to shape tissue and remove it as required.
This is highly effective for treating soft tissue for issues such as gum disease, or reducing the pain of cold sores. Lasers both cut and seal exposed blood vessels in soft tissue, which provides quicker healing. It can also very effectively cut through the calcium phosphate in your bones and teeth. This makes it easier for treatments requiring bone or tooth preparation, removal or shaping.
What types of lasers are used in dentistry?
Dentists tend to use both hard tissue and soft tissue lasers. The difference between the two is the “wavelength.” The wavelength differs depending on the type of tissue we work on because tissue absorbs wavelengths of light differently. When we alter the laser’s wavelength and pulse, it changes the way it cuts and penetrates tissue.
When is laser dentistry used?
There are many circumstances we might recommend laser dentistry. It can be used for hard tissue, which would include dental work involving the teeth and soft tissue, which would include issues related to the gums. Laser treatments are also being used more frequently for leading-edge cosmetic treatments.
In most cases, however, laser dentistry involves the gums including:
- Canker sore and cold sores
- Eliminating tongue-ties
- Root canal infections
- Gum disease
- Removing gum inflammation
- Gum reshaping
- Exposing wisdom teeth
- Regenerating damaged nerves
- Benign oral tumours removal
What hard tissue laser dentistry treatments are available?
A hard tissue laser is most commonly used for:
- Cavity detection
- Removing decay
- Removing old crowns
- Bone removal or shaping
- Preparing teeth for dental fillings
- Sealing dental restorations
What soft tissue laser dentistry treatments are available?
Soft tissue lasers are used for:
- Gummy Smiles
- Tooth sensitivity
- Lengthening crowns
- Improving restricted tongue movement due to a tongue-tie
- Removing folds caused by dentures
What cosmetic laser dentistry treatments are available?
The two most common cosmetic treatments that use laser dentistry are:
Cosmetic reshaping of the gums to improve smiles
If your gums appear too high or too low, it can distort the appearance of your smile. Gum reshaping allows us to sculpt gum tissue to align gums and improve your smile.
Use during teeth whitening
Applying lasers during teeth whitening sessions speeds up the bleaching process. Often this reduces the number of sessions required. Many people are amazed at the results.
What are the benefits of laser dentistry?
One of the main benefits of laser dentistry is that when used on soft tissue, the light wavelength is easily absorbed by hemoglobin and water. As a result, the cuts are made easily, tend to be less painful and have very little bleeding. You also heal more quickly as the laser seals as we work. Other benefits include:
- Reduced discomfort and healing time
- Sutures are rarely required
- In many cases, anesthesia is not required
- Lasers sterilize as we work, reducing the risk for infection
- Lasers cause less damage, so it takes less time to heal compared to traditional tools
- No bleeding and blood loss compared to traditional surgery
How is laser dentistry performed?
Laser dentistry is performed in our office, much like any other procedure. The main difference might be you require less anesthesia, but this depends on your treatment and preference. For example, people with dental anxiety might still feel more comfortable with a sedative for treatment.
Another nice change is that there is less noise, vibrations, pressure, and discomfort during laser dentistry treatments than using a dental drill. You will still need to have your mouth open during your treatments, but for most treatments, there is little bleeding.
What can I expect following laser dentistry?
This, of course, will depend on the type of treatment:
For gum surgery, your post-operative experience will be more comfortable with far less bleeding. Because the lasers seal as we work, you won’t have any distinct areas with “cuts” that are open. You will also be at less risk for infection, as the lasers sterilize as we work.
You will still need to follow cleaning and care instructions, but overall you will feel more comfortable and heal more quickly. This would be the same for cosmetic gum removal. You will also see immediate results in the appearance of your teeth and gums.
Cold and canker sores
In the case of cold and canker sore treatments, you should see immediate results with reduced pain and speedier healing.
Teeth whitening will be much more noticeable and often requires fewer sessions than treatments without lasers.
All in all, laser dentistry is improving the way we treat teeth and gums. It provides what tends to be a safer, less painful method for treating gums due to less bleeding, sterilization, and sealing cuts as we work.
Cosmetic treatments help you get the smile you’ve always wanted, while whitening becomes more intense and effective. Reduced recovery times and discomfort during treatments also make it a preferred choice by many patients.