What Is Laser Dentistry?
You may be surprised to hear that lasers are a common tool used in many laser dentistry procedures. In fact, lasers have been used in dental practice since the mid 1990s. While they are becoming more popular, the American Dental Association has not yet recommended their use over traditional dental techniques. It is suspected that lasers will continue to take up a bigger role in dentistry as technology advices. Are you curious about how lasers are used in dental procedures? Below is more information about which procedures commonly involve lasers, how lasers work, and the pros and cons of laser use.
Procedures that Commonly Involve Lasers
Lasers are becoming popular for many uses in dental practices. Here are some of the procedures that commonly involve the use of lasers for treatment:
- Root canals:During a root canal, lasers are often used to carefully remove decay from within the tooth and then prepare the surrounding enamel for filling.
- Gum disease treatment: Often, lasers are used to trim away diseased tissue, reshape gums, and reduce bacteria during specific procedures to reduce gum disease.
- Biopsy:Lasers can be used to safely and easily remove a small piece of tissue so that it can be examined for cancer or disease.
- Teeth whitening.Lasers are commonly used during the in-office teeth whitening procedure. Once the bleaching solution has been applied to the surface of the teeth it can be quickly ''activated" by the heat of the laser.
How Lasers Work in Dentistry
To many the thought of using lasers in the mouth sounds scary. In reality, lasers work by delivering light energy at a high power. When used in dental procedures, the laser works as a cutting instrument or a heat instrument. The use for cutting is much quicker and more precise than using a manual tool by hand. When used in teeth-whitening, the heat of the laser enhances the effect of tooth-bleaching agents and is much quicker than other techniques. Overall, the use of lasers can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of dental procedures while also reducing pain.
Pros and Cons of Laser Use
Pros: Lasers are most commonly used in place of drills or manual scaling tools. The pros of lasers include:
- Reduced level of pain during and after treatment
- Procedures are able to be performed quicker
- Often reduce the need for anesthesia
- Reduce anxiety in patients uncomfortable with the drill
- Minimize bleeding and swelling during tissue treatments
- Preserve more of the healthy tooth during root canals
Cons: Lasers are improving the precision of dental care, but there are still some disadvantages of using lasers, including:
- Lasers can't be used on teeth that already have fillings or to remove fillings, which is unfortunate because fillings are very common
- Drills may still be needed to shape fillings, adjust bite, and polish fillings
- Lasers do not eliminate the need for anesthesia
- Treatments that use lasers are often more expensive as the cost of the laser is higher than a dental drill or manual instruments
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