Comparing Laser Dentistry to Traditional Dentistry Procedures

What Is Laser Dentistry?

Laser dentistry uses lasers to treat a wide variety of dental conditions. In 1989, laser dentistry began to be used commercially in dental clinics for procedures that involved tooth tissues. Laser dentistry can offer a more comfortable option for treatment for an assortment of soft and hard tissue dental procedures when compared to non-laser tools like drills.

LASER is the acronym for light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation. The laser generates light energy in a narrow, focused beam and it creates a reaction as soon as it hits the tissue, which allows the laser to shape or remove the tissue.

Laser dentistry can be used in a number of procedures like the following:

  • Treating gum disease
  • Treating tooth decay
  • Treating hypersensitivity
  • Whitening teeth

With lasers, dental treatments become more cost-effective, comfortable, and efficient. While the ADA has yet to do so, the FDA has approved this innovative form of dentistry as an option of treatment for numerous dental conditions.

How Is Laser Dentistry Performed?

There are two primary kinds of procedures used in laser dentistry, which are hard and soft tissue procedures. Soft tissue refers specifically to the gums, while hard tissue refers specifically to the teeth.

Some common soft tissue procedures may include the following:

  • Lengthening Crowns – This is a procedure that reshapes the bone and gum tissue for healthier overall tooth structure, which assists with restoration placement on the teeth.
  • Treatment of a “gummy” smile – Lasers can be used to restructure gum tissue when you have what is considered a “gummy” smile, which is when the length of the gums cover a significant amount of the teeth.
  • Removal of soft tissue folds – Lasers can be used to remove the soft tissue folds from dentures that don’t fit right with sutures or pain.
  • Treatment of tongue frenulum attachment – Individuals with a tight or thick frenulum, which is the fold of skin that is located under the tongue, may find it beneficial to undergo a laser frenectomy. This particular laser treatment assists children who have a restricted frenulum that is causing them to get tongue-tied, have a speech impediment, or have difficult breastfeeding.

Some common hard tissue procedures may include the following:

  • Detection of cavities – Lasers have the ability to detect cavities early on by finding evidence of decay.
  • Preparation of teeth and dental fillings – With laser treatments, traditional drills and local anesthesia generally aren’t necessary. Lasers are able to kill the bacteria within a cavity, aiding in a tooth’s long-term health.
  • Treatment of the sensitivity of a tooth – Dental lasers can treat teeth that are sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures by sealing tubules on the root of the tooth.

Some other laser procedures that can be performed include the following:

  • Removal of benign tumors – Lasers have the ability to remove tumors from the gums, palate, and sides of the cheeks and lips through a suture- and pain-free method.
  • Viewing tissues – A doctor can see inside gum tissue or a tooth safely via optical coherence tomography.
  • TMJ treatment – Lasers can reduce inflammation and pain in the joint.
  • Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea – Lasers can help to restructure the throat while relieving breathing issues when sleep apnea is a result of overgrown tissue inside the throat.
  • Nerve regeneration – Lasers can assist in the regeneration of damaged nerves, scars, and blood vessels.
  • Cold sore treatment – Lasers can help reduce pain and healing time from cold sores.
  • Teeth whitening – Lasers have the ability to accelerate the bleaching process during teeth whitening treatments.

Laser treatments like the ones mentioned above will vary in cost, depending on the actual procedure and the equipment being used. However, due to the fact that laser treatment can usually be completed in fewer sessions, it can be less expensive when compared to non-laser treatment.

In addition, dental insurance will generally base reimbursement costs based on the actual treatment as opposed to the method used. As a result, your compensation will likely be the same. Nonetheless, it is important to talk to your insurance provider beforehand.

What Kinds of Lasers Are Used?

Depending on the treatment, dentists will use either a soft or hard tissue lasers. If the treatment allows, the dentist will use both kinds of lasers.

As mentioned before, hard tissue lasers will cut through teeth and bones. The wavelengths for these lasers are absorbed through a combination of a specific mineral that is found in your teeth and water. These hard tissue lasers are typically used during the preparation of the teeth or to shape the teeth for composite dental bonding, to repair worn down dental fillings, or to remove a small amount of the structure of a tooth.

The wavelengths for soft tissue lasers are absorbed through a combination hemoglobin—a protein that is found within the body’s red blood cells—and water. These lasers are often used in the treatment of periodontitis. These lasers will penetrate the tissue and seal the blood vessels and nerve endings simultaneously. Because of this, most patients feel little no pain following the treatment. These lasers also encourage quicker tissue healing.

Advantages of Laser Dentistry

  • Anesthesia is usually unnecessary
  • Decreased need for sutures
  • Minimal bleeding—laser promotes blood clotting
  • Reduced risk of bacterial infections—laser sterilizes surgical site
  • Increased healing time—tissues may regenerate
  • Reduced risk of damage to surrounding tissues

Disadvantages of Laser Dentistry

  • Some procedures will still require anesthesia.
  • Lasers are unable to be used on teeth that have certain kinds of fillings like metal amalgam.
  • Drills may still be necessary to complete fillings like adjusting the bite, shaping, and polishing the filling.
  • Hard lasers may injure tooth pulp.
  • There is a risk of gum-related injury.
  • Some procedures aren’t able to be performed with laser treatment, depending on the preexisting components involving the guns or tooth and surrounding tissue.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Laser Dentistry?

There are very few risks associated with laser dentistry. To minimize issues, you want to find an experience and qualified dentist to perform laser dentistry because using the wrong power level or wavelength can result in damaged tissue. In addition, there are some dental providers that are concerned advertisers push the use of laser dentistry beyond what individuals truly need.

To ensure that your eyes are protected from the laser, your dentist will provide you with special glasses to wear during the treatment.

Finding a Qualified Dentist

Seek a dental professional who has received the appropriate laser dentistry training and has taken educational courses on this new innovative method of dentistry. Dr. Cappetta at Fountain of Youth Dental have the expertise necessary to perform laser dentistry. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us today.

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