The number of individuals seeking out laser-based dental procedures in the last couple of decades has skyrocketed, which has more people than ever wanting to know all about laser dentistry. The average person knows little about the use of lasers in this industry other than that is a popular way that modern Americans are taking care of their oral health. What do you need to know?
The United States Food and Drug Administration approves professional dental lasers sold within their borders. However, they do recommend dentists receive procedure-specific training on the use of dental lasers. Before undergoing laser dentistry, it can be a good idea to verify that the laser is approved by the U.S. FDA and that the dentist has been well trained on its use.
When it comes to dental applications, the two types of lasers commonly used are hard tissue and soft tissue lasers. Each type of laser absorbs different wavelengths of light making one better than another for certain applications. Hard tissue lasers are most often used on teeth because their wavelength is designed to be able to cut through bone when necessary. This generally translates to use in preparing teeth with cavities for dental fillings. Soft tissue lasers are more easily absorbed by hemoglobin and water, so they are used primarily for soft tissues like the gums or the muscle attachment of the tongue.
Top Reasons People Choose Laser Dentistry
So, why are so many Americans all about laser dentistry? The number of benefits yielded by lasers plays a significant role. Some of the top reasons people are turning to laser dentistry include:
- Little to no pain. It is not unusual for patients to associate pain with dental procedures, but that assumption can be inaccurate in many instances, especially in the case of lasers. More often than not, dental lasers cause little to no pain in the majority of patients, which may help increase the likelihood that a patient will give their consent to the less invasive procedure.
- Little to no need for anesthesia. Many people need no or very little anesthesia with laser treatments. This may have patients returning to work or daily activities faster and without annoying numbing sensations or sharp pain holding them back.
- Less anxiety due to absence of noise and feelings of pressure from a drill. Understandably, many individuals can be anxiety ridden upon hearing the loud hum of a drill and the abrasive sound it can make when it contacts their teeth. Although the sound alone is enough to create fear in some patients, the added feeling of pressure that happens when the drill touches the teeth can also be distressing. Dental lasers do not have as high of a noise level and generally do not create intense contact pressure.
- Less damage to surrounding tissue. The precise nature of lasers is one of the things that makes them a favorite tool among professional dentists. Lasers are able to target specific areas with ease, which reduces the risk of damaging tissues surrounding the affected area.
- Minimized bleeding and swelling. After procedures such as gum contouring or treating gum disease, it could result in significant bleeding and swelling as part of the healing and recovery process. However, modern dental lasers help with cauterization to reduce bleeding. Less swelling is also often experienced with laser procedures.
- Reduced incidence of infection. Since lasers are adept at minimizing if not eliminating harmful bacteria in the affected area, it in turn reduces the incidence of infection which may complicate and extend recovery.
- Faster recovery. With less bleeding and swelling, lower incidences of infection, and less overall pain, these benefits can all come together to make recovery faster via laser dentistry than some more traditional methods.
8 Popular Laser Dentistry Applications
One of the main benefits of laser dentistry is the wide range of applications it can have for both corrective and cosmetic purposes. The primary applications of lasers in dentistry include:
- Healing of mouth sores. Particularly when a big event such as a gala or wedding is approaching, people become can become more attuned to what they perceive as imperfections in their appearance. Individuals with annoying canker or cold sores may find lasers to be effective in healing these problem areas.
- Facilitating teeth whitening. Dentists that offer professional in-house teeth whitening may also use lasers to assist in activating the bleaching solution which can then speed up the process of making teeth appear brighter.
- Reshaping gumlines. In many cases, low or uneven gumlines are not a health risk but are a cosmetic concern for patients. Those whose smiles flash more gum than teeth often gravitate toward laser dentistry to help reshape gum tissue via gum contouring. The results frequently provide an increased sense of self-confidence in smiling.
- Assisting with other dental procedures. Dental lasers can be useful in reshaping or even removing bone or gum tissue if a patient requires crown lengthening. These implements can also aid in removing limited amounts of tooth enamel or help with professional tooth whitening.
- Removing tooth decay. While cavities can be addressed with a drill rather than lasers, the latter tends to be preferred due to a more precise approach and the lack of noise that a drill can make. As an added bonus, the use of lasers is instrumental in sterilizing the area to minimize harmful bacteria before fillings are put in place. Lasers can also be effective in repairing particularly worn-down fillings.
- Treating gum disease. Having gum disease is no laughing matter. In fact, it is a barometer of an individual’s overall state of health and may signal the existence or arrival of other associated issues. Treating gum disease requires thoroughness to avoid complications, and bacteria must be greatly minimized or even eliminated. Fortunately, dental lasers are adept at doing just that. The elimination of bacteria is key following the procedure because it helps inhibit the explosion of future bacteria growth, which can lead to serious complications.
- Removing tissues. Should a professional physical exam of the teeth and gums lead a dentist to be concerned about a specific area of tissue, lasers can be used to remove small pieces of tissue for biopsy. Being able to remove suspect tissue for biopsy is a giant step toward early detection of oral cancer. Laser tissue removal can also be beneficial in instances where gum tissue has grown up around a partially exposed wisdom tooth.
- Correcting muscle attachments. People who are born with certain muscle attachments may find that it restricts the way they use and move their lips and tongue. Fortunately, laser dentistry can help ease the restrictions by addressing muscle attachments directly.
The Importance of Oral Health and Finding the Right Houston Dentist to Maintain It
As mentioned above, oral health is an important barometer for our overall health. Changes in the gums such as inflammation could potentially signal other warning signs related to infections, vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, heart disease, and more.
It is for this reason that individuals are generally advised to have a standing professional teeth cleaning with their dentist every six months. This allows dentists to create a benchmark on a patient’s first visit with x-rays and a cleaning that they can then measure every subsequent visit against to note important changes that may signal a problem.
However, dental problems do not occur only at six-month visits or even during regular business hours. Should you notice a change in the sensitivity of your teeth or the state of your gums, it is vital to take the initiative to make an appointment with your Houston dentist right away.
With so much at stake with your health, it is important to choose a licensed, Houston professional dentist that has experience in treating patients with traditional and modern techniques, such as laser dentistry. The more services a reputable Houston dentist provides, the less patients will be forced to look elsewhere for additional treatment options.