Dental lasers have several uses. At low intensities, they are used in teeth whitening procedures. At higher intensities, they are used to remove infected tissue and tooth material, or to take small samples of mouth lesions for cancer biopsies.
Lasers vs. Drills
A laser is an incredibly concentrated blast of light or infrared (the kind of light that carries heat). A high-intensity laser can vaporize tissue or bone instantly, making it a useful instrument in many surgeries. In dentistry, lasers can, in some cases, take the place of a drill. Compared to drills, lasers cause less trauma to surrounding tissues, less pain, less bleeding, and fewer complications. They are far more precise and perform much better in tricky procedures. They are particularly effective in root canals, recovering dental implants,
Unfortunately, lasers cannot be used in all cases.
Lasers reflect from, rather than vaporize, metal fillings and thus cannot be used in metal filling replacement or adjustment procedures. Lasers cannot be used in certain other cases, like replacing a cavity between two teeth.
Other Uses For Lasers
Though lasers cannot be used on metal fillings, they have a very useful effect on composite fillings. Hot lasers are used on composite fillings, in a process called curing to speed up the bonding process. This leads to rapid and effective bonding, increasing a filling’s lifespan.
Lasers are also used to vaporize gum tissue. This is most often used in cosmetic procedures, but can also be a major step in reducing bacterial growth in your mouth. For infection of dental implants, laser treatment of the gums to remove infected tissue is the best possible course of treatment. At lower intensities, lasers can also disinfect and cauterize cold sores, split lips, and more, leading to faster healing.
Finally, at much lower intensities, lasers can be used in teeth whitening procedures. The high heat of the laser activates the peroxide, leading to shorter and more effective treatments.
Lasers continue to grow in popularity. The combination of precision with the ability to sterilize tissues and teeth makes them a must in any modern dental office.