What is a Dental Laser?
A dental laser emits a powerful energy beam, of a specific wavelength that focuses accurately and clearly on the lesions of the tissues. Dental lasers appeared for the first time in the 1960s. However, only in the last 10 years they have developed and are more and more applied in dentistry. What is certain is that lasers are quite safe, as they do not emit ionizing radiation, as Χ-rays. The procedure is painless, requires a small amount of time and excellent results can be achieved. The developments in the technology sector are quite rapid, particularly regarding dental equipment. This has as consequence that the dentists must always be informed and acquire further education, so that they can adapt and be aware of the latest data in the course of development of Dental Science.
Today, a LASER is the most modern and friendly appliance for the dental patient. It can remove our fear of the dental drill and of pain or even of anesthesia. It removes even the disturbing noise of the dental drill, is harmless and absolutely safe in the hands of the specialized user and is, of course, ideal for children that usually react with an intense fear to the dental drill, the syringe etc. and all this at a cost which is quite affordable compared to the income of the average Greek. For all these reasons the Laser consists a “luminous caress” for the needs of the modern dental patient.
What is the history of the LASER?
Chandra Kumar Naranbhai Patel developed the first diode laser in 1964. In the same year, the Nd-YAG Laser was invented by BellLabs.
Is there only one type of laser?
The first application for hard tissues, such as teeth and the bones of the upper jaw was formalized in 1996. Various types of lasers are used depending on the wavelength that each type of laser emits and which is appropriate for the tissues it will be applied to.
Soft tissue Laser: Diode Laser which is appropriate for application to the gums (soft tissues) as its emission spectrum is 810-900mm and is absorbed by red color tissues, such as the gums.
-> CARBON DIOXIDE LASERS
-> Nd-YAG laser
LASER OF SOFT AND HARD TISSUES -> Er-YAG Laser
-> ErCr-YSGG LASER that are appropriate for surgical operations in the jaw bones and application of which to the soft tissues is also excellent and offer fast healing, easy and fast application and minimal pain.
Applications of dental lasers
- Removal of pathological soft tissues (for example cysts).
- Exposure of implants (removal of soft tissues around the implants).
- Correction of gingival smile (aesthetic restoration of gums).
- Tooth Whitening .
- Treatment of gingivitis.
- Treatment of periodontitis.
- Incision and drainage of periodontal abscesses.
- Endodontic (root canal) treatments (resections).
- Exposure of the dental crown, so that tooth eruption is facilitated.
- Excision of the frenum (frenectomy).
- Reduce of the dental sensitivity.
- Sterilization of the tooth socket (dental alveolus) after an extraction.
- Gingivectomy-Gingivoplasty (reshaping of gums).
- Exposure of semi-impacted and impacted teeth.
- Symptomatic treatment of labial herpes, oral thrush, etc.
- Crown lengthening, with an excellent aesthetic result, without any discomfort of the patient.
- Dental imprints (for prosthetic works) without the use of gum retraction strings, without any bleeding, rapidly and bloodlessly for the patient.
Minor or major surgical operations can be performed with the use of a Laser. Many of the small surgical operations where Lasers are used can be performed without any anesthesia (as the patient does not feel pain) or only with a little anesthetic spray. Furthermore, thanks to their powerful regenerating action, a faster healing and a better bone regeneration (in quantity and quality) is achieved. Almost all therapeutical actions of Periodontology, from a simple tooth cleaning to the cure of selected periodontitis, are performed with the ease and the therapeutic advantages of Lasers. The treatments are performed with the use of Er:YAG Lasers, Nd:YAG Lasers, KTP Lasers, Diode Lasers and the application of Low Level Laser Therapy, depending on the extent and the gravity of the periodontal disease.
What are the advantages of dental lasers?
- The periodontal treatments with Lasers have significantly more advantages than conventional treatments, both regarding the patient’s comfort, and in the subsequent course and the prognosis, as treatments with Lasers are most of the times painless or almost painless and usually there is no need for anesthesia, or a little anesthetic spray is enough.
- The patient does not feel any pain and there is no edema (swelling) after the treatment.
- The Laser, during the treatment, sterilizes the field from pathogenic microbes, and simultaneously removes the inflammatory epithelium and has an intense anesthetic-analgesic and regenerating effect to the tissues, providing thus a more rapid and safer healing, safe and fast root canal treatments with an excellent prognosis.
- The use of Lasers for the support of conventional endodontic (root canal) treatment ensures its result and offers us the possibility to complete it with safety, even in one and only session. The powerful and deep microbicidal action in combination with its strong regenerating effect to the tissues are only some of the reasons that guarantee the rapidity and the excellent result of the treatment.
- Immediate elimination and rapid healing of the lesions caused by thrush and herpes, without any pain for the patient during the treatment, in two diseases that make a significant percentage of the population suffer.
- An even more spectacular application of Lasers: pericoronitis, the very painful disease that occurs in the third molars (wisdom teeth) (and which many times leads to the extraction of the affected tooth), is treated rapidly and effectively with a type of laser without the need of anesthesia, with no pain at all and with immediate results.
- Less pain or even no pain at all during the cutting and preparation of teeth, for example for filling (sealing) and in surgical operations in soft tissues (gums, tongue, cheeks, skin).
- Minor bleeding during the surgical operations in soft tissues.
- There is the possibility of selective tissue removal without any effect to the substrate.
- Reduce of the microbial factor in the area of the surgical operation.
- Healing is accelerated with less absorptions compared to classic surgery methods.
What are the disadvantages?
- Lasers are not easy to use in routine dental work, particularly in the hands of dentists that are not specialized in their use.
- They cannot substitute the classic means of dental treatment (dental drill, scalpel).
- Their purchase cost is quite high.
- They require special protection equipment for the patient and the dental surgeon (protective eyewear).
Lasers are useful tools with excellent results, only in the hands of specialized doctors.
To conclude, lasers are light beams that are generated by a specific procedure and which are sent to the dentist’s handle through different systems and are used as a treatment tool. They can be used in a large number of treatments, such as:
- Dental surgery, preparation of cavities (tooth sealing/filling).
- Periodontal treatment (treatment of gingivitis-periodontium).
- Surgery (oral surgical operations in soft tissues)
- Endodontics (treatment of necrotic teeth-root canal treatment)
- Cosmetic dentistry (tooth whitening).
Constantinos Laghios, Dental Surgeon – Endodontist, M.S., Elina Terzibassi, Dental Surgeon