What is laser dentistry?
Laser dentistry is the use of lasers to treat many different dental conditions. It became commercially used in clinical dental practice for procedures involving tooth tissue in 1989.
Laser dentistry potentially offers a more comfortable treatment option for many dental procedures involving hard or soft tissue compared to drills and other non-laser tools.
LASER stands for “light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation.” The instrument creates light energy in a very narrow and focused beam. This laser light produces a reaction when it hits tissue, allowing it to remove or shape the tissue.
Laser dentistry is used in a variety of procedures, including:
Lasers can make dental treatments more efficient, cost-effective, and comfortable. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved laser dentistry as a treatment option for several dental conditions.
It’s worth noting that the American Dental Association (ADA) currently has yet to do so, though they are hopeful about the potential of the field.
How are laser treatments performed?
The two main types of laser procedures used for laser dentistry are hard tissue and soft tissue procedures. Hard tissue refers to the teeth, and soft tissue refers to the gums.
Common hard tissue procedures include:
Common soft tissue procedures include:
Other laser procedures include:
Laser treatments such as these can vary in price, depending on the procedure being done and the laser equipment used. Compared to non-laser treatment, they may be less expensive because the laser treatment is usually completed in fewer sessions. Additionally, dental insurance usually determines reimbursement costs based on the treatment itself and not on what method is used.
Therefore, your compensation is likely to be the same as it would with drilling and other procedures. However, it’s always important to ask about your specific policy beforehand to get the most accurate information.
What types of lasers are used?
Dental professionals use either hard tissue or soft tissue lasers, depending on the treatment. Some will use both types if the treatment allows.
Hard tissue lasers can cut through tooth structure. Their wavelengths are absorbed through the combination of water and a specific mineral found in teeth. These lasers are most often used to prep or shape teeth for composite bonding, to repair dental fillings that have worn down, and to remove some tooth structure.
Benefits of using laser dentistry over other methods
Soft tissue lasers can be absorbed through water and hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells.
These lasers are used to treat periodontitis, including killing bacteria and activating tissue regrowth.
Soft tissue lasers seal nerve endings and blood vessels while they penetrate the tissue. For this reason, many experienced almost no pain after laser treatment. The lasers also promote faster healing of the tissue.
Disadvantages of laser dentistry
What risks are associated with laser dentistry?
The risks of laser dentistry are relatively small. It’s important to find a qualified dental professional, as using the wrong wavelength or power level could damage tissue. Additionally, some providers worry that advertisers are pushing the use of laser treatment beyond what people need.
Your dentist will have you use special glasses to protect your eyes from the laser.
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