No one wants surgery. The prospect of undergoing a surgery, especially dental surgery, scares the bravest among us due to the conventional treatments with scalpel and the bleeding and pain associated with it. Imagine a technique that can eliminate all the pain from surgeries. Using laser, many of the surgeries and procedures can be painless, minimally invasive with minimal post-operative discomfort and excellent healing. Patients require little or no anaesthesia for most of the laser procedures. This technology is helping dentistry gain confidence of people and their popularity among patients is unparalleled.
The term LASER stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. The light can be focused to do very fine, precise work. Lasers are broadly classified as hard tissue (Er:YAG laser) and soft tissue laser (Diode laser). We focus on the soft tissue diode laser and its extensive uses in soft tissue procedures, teeth whitening and pain therapy. Lasers are named for the material that is stimulated. Therefore, in a diode laser, the stimulated substance is a semiconductor that is ideally suited for soft tissue procedures.
BENEFITS OF LASER DENTISTRY
Laser has several advantages – One, the procedures are performed using soft tissue may not require stitches. Little or no anaesthesia is needed for most procedures. There is minimal bleeding as the high-energy light beam aids in the clotting and helps in achieving haemostasis quickly. The beam also sterilises the area being worked on, lowering risk of bacterial infection. The precision lowers damage to the surrounding tissue, with patients reporting faster wound healing and tissue regeneration and minimal post-operative swelling, thus reducing the need for post-operative analgesics. Diode laser is safe to use with patients who have a pacemaker.
APPLICATION OF LASER DENTISTRY
Lasers represent an innovative and more precise technology for soft tissue applications, bleaching and pain therapy.
- Periodontal therapy (Soft tissue debridement, flap surgeries) – Bleeding gums and gum recession are common signs of gum disease, caused by the presence of bacteria and inflammation inside the gums. Laser removes inflamed areas and infected tissue from inside the gums. Improved healing of the gum tissue follows after treatment along with proper oral care.
- Gummy Smile:To improve the appearance of your smile laser safely removes excess gum tissue that may give you a “gummy” smile, or makes your front teeth appear irregular in size or shape.
- Crown Lengthening:Dental lasers can reshape gum tissue to expose healthier tooth structure. This provides a stronger foundation for the placement of crowns.
- Enlargement of gums – Enlarged and swollen gums around orthodontic wires and/or brackets or because of certain medications or infection can be reshaped.
- Muscle Attachment (Frenula):A laser frenectomy is an ideal treatment option for children who are tongue tied and babies unable to breast feed adequately due to limited tongue movement. It may also help to eliminate speech impediments.
- Benign growth: lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of benign tumours (fibroma and papilloma) from the gums, palate, sides of cheeks and lips. Precancerous lesions can also be treated.
- Cold Sores:Low intensity dental lasers reduce pain associated with cold sores and minimize healing time.
- For Depigmentation of gums, exposure of partially erupted or unerupted teeth and for reducing tooth sensitivity
- Implant access and for treating infection around implants: It generates little or no heat which can impact on implant longevity.
- Teeth Whitening:Low intensity soft tissue dental lasers may be used to speed up the bleaching process associated with teeth whitening. A hydrogen peroxide-based whitening gel is applied to the teeth and activated by the laser.
- Pain Therapy:Lasers may be used to quickly reduce pain and inflammation.
Dental lasers are safe – If the dental laser is used according to accepted practices by a trained practitioner, then it is as safe as other dental instruments. However, just as you wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from prolonged exposure to the sun, when your dentist performs a laser procedure, you will be asked to wear special eyeglasses to protect your eyes from the laser.
Ask your dentist – If you choose a laser dentist, you may find that you feel more comfortable and less anxiety during your treatments. Although the laser is a very useful dental instrument, it is not appropriate for every dental procedure.
It is time to open our minds to laser technology and embrace the routine use of lasers for the dental procedures. Laser dentistry is a precise and effective way to perform a wide range of dental procedures and research has shown laser to be effective and safe. The potential for laser dentistry to improve dental procedures rests in the dentist’s ability to control power output and the duration of exposure on the tissue, allowing for treatment of a highly specific area of focus without damaging surrounding tissues with minimized pain and recovery time.