When we hear the word lasers, we are automatically conditioned to think of some high-tech devices that look like those in sci-fi films. However, with the emergence of lasers in dentistry, their use is expanding. The thought of lasers itself is intimidating to the common man, let alone trying to understand it or know that it is actually an acronym or “short form” as we say it commonly. YES! LASER stands for Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
However, lasers are becoming quite popular in many fields. Lasers are becoming the new generation of technology. Laser printers, laser tattoos and piercings, laser photocopying, laser weapons, etc, you name it and there is a laser innovation available.
Obviously, the medical field wasn’t going to be left behind. And so we have the use of lasers in dentistry too.
What are Lasers and How do they Work?
Lasers are devices that use light energy which is emitted as radiation and this intense radiation is used for various purposes based on the type of energy and its intensity.
Lasers can do basic things like printing and can also do miraculous things like healing wounds.
Types of Lasers in Dentistry
There are various types of lasers that are used. The lasers which are widely used in dentistry are:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)
- Neodymium Yttrium Aluminum Garnet Laser ( Nd: YAG)
- Erbium lasers
- Diode lasers
Let us see its role in dentistry.
Role of Lasers in Dentistry
Lasers are widely used in dentistry today. Due to their ability to create impactful and accurate jobs as well as quick action, lasers are starting to be preferred over other materials.
- Lasers can be used for both the hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity.
- Hard tissues of the oral cavity are teeth and bone and soft tissues include tooth pulp, gums, tongue, and surrounding soft tissue.
- Lasers have proven to be more effective and accurate than manual intervention when it comes to dental procedures.
Hard Tissue Applications of Lasers in Dentistry
Lasers such as Erbium lasers have a high affinity towards hard tissue substances of the teeth and hence can be used for treating :
- Diagnosis of caries (detecting dental decay)
- Bleaching of teeth
- Restorative procedures (dental filling)
- Cavity preparation (preparation of teeth for filling)
- Remineralization (resorting to weakened enamel of teeth)
- Etching (for bonding the fillings or material to teeth)
- Detecting dentinal hypersensitivity (teeth sensitivity detection)
Soft Tissue Applications of Lasers in Dentistry
Lasers such as CO2, Nd: YAG, etc. have a good affinity towards soft tissues and they can be used for :
- Wound healing
- Surgical extraction of teeth
- Frenectomy ( repositioning the frenum tissue)
- Gingival recontouring (shaping the gum margins).
- Exposing unerupted teeth or partially erupted teeth.
- Healing of mouth ulcers
- Detection of oral cancers
- Removal of inflamed soft tissue or any tumour or overgrowth present in the mouth.
- Regeneration and repair of nerves
- Creating digital imaging of the tissues.
These are what lasers are mostly used for in dentistry. However, there are some other uses too.
Other Uses of Lasers in Dentistry
- Reducing post-surgical pain (acts as an analgesic)
- Alleviating the pain of sinusitis (reduces blood flow in the region)
- Post-treatment pain.
Benefits of Using Lasers
- painless and bloodless procedure.
Disadvantages of Using Lasers
- Risk to the eyes – Lasers are harmful to the eyes and hence proper protection for both patient and doctor must be given.
- Not widely available for remote areas.
- Lasers need to be worked with carefully as they can damage healthy tissue if not handled carefully.
Is it Safe to use lasers?
Yes, with proper care and safety, lasers are safe to use. The doctors, as well as patients, are advised to protect contact with the eyes and other parts of the body. The dentist will make sure all safety measures are taken.
Is Choosing Lasers Compulsory?
No, you can still request a traditional procedure if you aren’t comfortable with the use of lasers. The patient has the complete right to choose the method of treatment.
So, now lasers don’t seem that complicated, right? They are very effective and safe to use and get the job done easily. It also makes the patient experience of the treatment comfortable. So next time, don’t be intimidated or hesitant in asking your dentist about laser dental treatments.