Imagine a flash that would rid you of all of your teeth and gum problems. Does it seem a bit too far-fetched? Not really; lasers have armed modern dentistry (their use in the oral and dental fields has been a work in progress for some time now) to achieve the very results which would have seemed a wee bit too incredible.
About the process involved:
Before we delve into the various dental procedures and the corresponding application of lasers, having an idea of lasers would be helpful.
Lasers (actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), simply defined, are devices producing intense beams of lights of specific wavelength. The emitted light can be directed at specific objects to alter them by either cutting or moulding them.
The use of lasers in surgery can be attributed to the effects they can have cells or tissues – both thermal (i.e. a result of heat generation) as well as photochemical (i.e. chemical reactions that induced by light).
Use in Dentistry:
In dentistry, based on the requirement, lasers can be used on tooth enamel or the tissue holding teeth in place. The application of this light energy results in:
- Modification or removal of tissue
- Modification or removal of the dental pulp
- Removal of organic debris
- Modification of the structure of teeth (per specifications/requirements)
- Alteration of tooth colour
Lasers are thus used in soft tissue surgery, teeth whitening, as well as in pain therapy.
The net result of laser tissue interaction will depend upon the degree of laser energy that is absorbed or scattered by the tissue or the tissue fluid. Different parameters (as the ones listed) will influence the effect of a particular laser on the tissue:
- Laser wavelength
- Energy level of the generated light
- Mode of application
- Tissue characteristics
- The effect of lasers in root dentin is chiefly a thermal effect (increased temperature).
- The photochemical effect (i.e. chemical reactions that proceed with the absorption of light by atoms or molecules) of laser is used in Endodontics (the study and treatment of dental pulp).
During the initial years of their use in dental processes (the use of lasers on the gums was first approved by the FDA in the early 1990s, and their use on hard tissue like teeth or the bone of the mandible – lower jaw – gained approval only in 1996), several variants of the dental laser were popular, with the most common being diode lasers, carbon dioxide lasers, and yttrium aluminium garnet laser.
Whereas, the latter laser types are no longer in use, diodes have not only survived, but have also undergone tremendous development. The active medium based on which the dental diode lasers work is created by a p-n junction of a semiconductor diode like the ones found in a light-emitting diode.
A contemporary dental diodDiode Laser | Soft Tissue Laser (Dental Diode Laser)e laser is the 810 nm diode laser which holds the following advantages for the orthodontist:
- It is manageable in size
- It is cost effective
- Anaesthetics are limited to topical ones
In addition to these benefits, the diodes have an affinity for only soft tissue, thereby preventing damage to surrounding bone and tissue.
The use of these lasers in dentistry proves advantageous for both patients as well as doctors.
Benefits to Patients:
- Steers clear of the stress of drills and needles
- No risk of cross-contamination
- Fewer dental visits
- Faster recovery and return to daily routine after treatment
- Less chance of drug interactions
Benefits to Dentists:
- Expands the horizon of capabilities and procedures
- Enables the completion of multiple procedures in a single visit
- Best return on technology investment
- Easy to learn and own
- Enhances accuracy
Diode lasers emitting beams in the range of 900 – 2780 nm (which is outside the spectrum of visible light) are now being used in the field now, and lasers, the size of pens, have now been developed and are being used to successfully undertake various procedures.
We will discuss most recent developments in dental lasers armoury in our next article. Please do let us know you liked this article and if it was beneficial to you; and yes, if you are suffering from any dental ailments, or are thinking about altering your orals, get over your hesitations and fears; go ahead, laser your oral problems out of your lives.