Laser dentistry represents some of the latest, most exciting advances in dental care.
Click on a question below to see the answer.
What is a Laser and how does it work?
A Laser is an instrument that produces a very narrow, intense beam of light energy which may or may not be visible to the human eye. When laser light comes in contact with tissue, it causes a reaction. The beam of light produced by the laser has the ability to remove, vaporize, or shape soft tissue (gums, cheeks and tongue) or hard tissues (teeth).
Which procedures may be done with a Laser?
The laser is used for many soft tissue procedures. These include: the elimination of speech problems caused by a tongue tie which prevents normal tongue movement; the uncovering of partially erupted wisdom teeth; the removal of lip pulls often seen in both young and adult orthodontic patients; and the gentle removal of swollen tissues caused by some medications. A laser may also be used to perform biopsy procedures where tissue samples are needed to identify benign tumors or other lesions found in the mouth.
Lasers are utilized during crown lengthening procedures which involve removal or reshaping of excess gum tissues around crowns to provide adequate tooth shape for properly fitting restorations. Many other gum abnormalities can be addressed with laser treatment. Cavities can be detected, decay can be removed, and tooth-colored composite fillings may be cured (hardened) with lasers.
Can Lasers be used effectively to whiten teeth?
Yes. Laser energy can activate whitening chemicals that are used to lighten teeth. The usual procedure is to coat the tooth surface with a chemical solution and then direct the laser on it to activate the solution. The laser itself does not interact with or damage the tooth. The activated chemical solution brightens your smile.
What are the advantages of Laser treatment over other forms of surgery?
In most instances, lasers remove gum tissue without causing bleeding. The laser seals blood vessels and nerve endings. There may be less postoperative pain and swelling. Because there is less bleeding, the surgical area is kept relatively dry which improves the dentist's visibility. There is also less risk of spreading blood-born disease and less trauma to adjacent teeth and tissues. Lasers used for cavity preparation often reduce or completely eliminate the need for local anesthetic.
Will it hurt?
The aspect of laser surgery that most people appreciate is its comfort. While no treatment is always painless, the laser may reduce the need for postoperative pain medication and may reduce swelling or bleeding.
Is it safe?
Yes. If the dental laser is used according to accepted practices by a trained practitioner, it is at least as safe as other dental instruments.
Are any precautions necessary?
Yes. Just as you might wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from prolonged exposure to the sun, you will be asked to wear special glasses to protect your eyes from the laser beam.
Will I be treated with a Laser when I visit my dentist?
Not necessarily. Although the laser is a very useful dental instrument, it is not appropriate for use in every procedure. It is frequently used in conjunction with other instruments.
The Academy of Laser Dentistry
The Academy of Laser Dentistry is an international organization of leading clinicians that sets standards and guidelines for the safe and effective use of dental lasers. If you have questions about lasers in dentistry, you may visit the Academy's web site at www.laserdentistry.org or contact the Academy by phone at 954-346-3776.