As we’ve chronicled many times on our news page, lasers have an impact on numerous areas of society, with fields from the sciences to archaeology to manufacturing and more receiving the benefits.
With that in mind, we thought we’d look to the world of dentistry to highlight some of the amazing things lasers are doing for the field. Read on to discover some fascinating insights!
The Use of Lasers in Dentistry
Since 1994, lasers have been used by dentists to tackle a range of problems. One thing to note, though, is that the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance has yet to classify any approach as an official alternative to traditional methods. The ADA, however, holds the position of being cautiously optimistic about the advances of laser tech and its applications within the field.
1. Treating Tooth Decay and More
Obviously, one of the major areas of concern for dental patients is tooth decay since such issues can compound and lead to future health problems. So taking care of tooth decay is of paramount importance, and lasers are now playing a role in that.
Lasers can not only detect cavities in patients, but they are able to remove any decay in a problem tooth and even prepare the enamel in the area for the future filling!
2. Treating Gum Disease
Beyond tooth decay, gum disease is also a major concern for patients and dentists alike, so it’s good to know that lasers are able to provide advantages for this issue as well.
Lasers can actually reshape gums which can greatly reduce gum inflammation. Along with this, bacteria can be removed during root canal procedures to reduce inflammation in these instances along with chances for infection.
3. Taking a Biopsy or Conducting a Lesion Removal
Another fascinating use of lasers in the dentistry field comes by way of their ability to remove tissue in a number of ways. This includes:
- Removing lesions within the mouth as a way to relieve the pain of canker sores and cold sores
- Taking biopsies to check for signs of cancer
- Removing benign oral tumors
All of these aspects play vital roles in positive oral health, so lasers being able to be used in these ways is a great advancement for the field.
4. Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening, while elective compared to many of the procedures listed above, is quote popular among patients coming in to get dental work done.
Lasers are used in the process in that the heat of the laser “activates” the peroxide bleaching solution that is applied to the patient’s teeth, which serves to quicken the whitening procedure.
5. Exposing Wisdom Teeth
We talked above a bit about lasers being able to remove tissue, along with their role in combating gum disease, and another way that lasers are employed in working with the tissues of the gums is in clearing away tissue that is blocking wisdom teeth.
Once this tissue is out of the way, dentists can then more easily go about the removal of the wisdom teeth, a procedure incredibly common for dental patients.
6. Other Ways Lasers Are Being Used by Dentists
While lasers are still in their relatively early stages for the dental field, and new methodologies are being explored and developed, some additional ways they have been used include:
- Removing the folds in oral soft tissues that are caused by dentures
- Lengthening patient crowns
- Dealing with restricted tongue movement
- Reshaping a patient’s gums to craft a more appealing smile
- Eliminating throat tissue that can lead to issues such as sleep apnea
- Regenerating damaged nerves
All of these uses are yet more examples of the diverse possibilities for lasers, and we look forward to learning about more applications for the dental field in the future!
The Benefits of Lasers for Dentistry
As seen in the examples above, the uses of lasers within the field of dentistry are wide ranging, with many exciting applications. And along with all they can do when it comes to patient care and dental and medical procedures, there are other benefits associated with them as well. These include:
- The procedures can be less stressful for adults and children who are anxious about having dental work performed, as the use of drills and cutting instruments are reduced
- Oftentimes, the use of lasers can result in less discomfort for patients
- The use of sutures for patients are often less likely to be necessary
- Dentists may find anesthesia to not be needed for select procedures when lasers are utilized
- Less damage usually occurs to the gums with the use of lasers, resulting in quicker healing times for patients
- Use of a laser will sterilize gums for specific procedures, resulting in a lowered chance of infection
- Less blood is lost during operations that utilize lasers than with traditional methods
- More of the healthy portions of a tooth that is being worked on can often be preserved during cavity removal, in comparison to traditional methods
Though there are many great procedure possibilities and benefits associated with the use of lasers in dentistry, some drawbacks have been noted. These include the following:
- Teeth that already have fillings in place are not able to have lasers used on them for some of the procedures listed above
- A number of common dental procedures are not able to incorporate lasers, such as the filling of cavities between teeth or around prior fillings, removing defective crowns or silver fillings, or prepping a patient’s teeth for needed bridges
- While the need for anesthesia may be reduced as listed above, it is not eliminated completely, and is dependent on the procedure and specifics of the patient
- The shaping of fillings, bite adjustment, and the process of filling polishing often still need the use of drills to successfully complete the tasks
- There can be a greater cost when it comes to utilizing lasers for treatments, which initially falls on the dental practice but then likely results in higher costs for specific procedures
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