Thanks to how lasers are revolutionizing dentistry, the modern dental patient may find that many diseases that once required complex procedures no longer do. Technology in this field is changing and improving the way dentists care for their patients.
While lasers have been used in dental applications for decades, it is only in recent years that the technology has become more available and affordable to the general public. For this reason, laser dentistry has become increasingly sought by patients hoping to avoid the pain and recovery sometimes associated with dental surgery.
The Basics of Laser Dentistry
The letters in the word “laser” are an acronym for the term Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation. Laser dentistry is used to perform dental procedures and therapies with specialized lasers which are less painful and invasive than older, traditional methods.
These lasers harness the use of light energy to essentially vaporize the tissue it is directed at. In contrast, without laser dentistry, the same oral corrections would still need to be made but would require intense heat and/or pressure to achieve the same effect. Unfortunately, the latter also usually comes with more pain, significant swelling, and bleeding, as well as the increased risk of infection.
Because of how lasers are revolutionizing dentistry, many patients are asking their dentists specifically for these types of treatments. On average, most patients are eligible to receive laser procedures, particularly those of advanced age, those with diabetes, or those prone to infection. Laser dentistry may also work well for individuals who have sensitive teeth or damaged gums and teeth. However, there may be some instances in which patients with preexisting and underlying health conditions may not be candidates.
Laser dentistry can be used to make corrections such as:
- Teeth whitening
- Stop the further development of decay
- Preparing teeth for fillings and crowns
- Removing cavities
- Sealing the roots of a tooth
- Reshaping gums
- Removing soft tissue
- Repairing defects in the soft tissue
These corrections are done with the use of hard and cold lasers. Hard lasers are used to make modifications to hard tissue like tooth enamel. Cold lasers are used to make modifications to soft tissue like the gums.
How Lasers Are Revolutionizing Dentistry
Before laser dentistry became more accessible to dentists, patients who needed oral treatments were stuck with methods that were invasive and sometimes surgical in nature. They tended to be time consuming and caused many individuals to be fearful of pain during and after the procedure, along with other undesirable side effects such as bleeding and swelling.
Now that laser dentistry treatments have increased in availability, it is popular with dentists and patients alike. This is due in large part to the vast benefits it offers such as ease, speed, greater precision, less painful procedures, less swelling, and reduced incidence of bleeding and infection.
Some of the specific ways in how lasers are revolutionizing dentistry can include:
- Little to no use of anesthesia. Dental laser procedures do not typically create enough pain for the average patient to require anesthesia. However, especially in cases where there is another procedure being done at the same time, it may require anesthesia.
- Less noise. When a professional is performing laser dentistry, the lasers tend to be much quieter than the use of noisy dental drills. This is easier on the ears and may also help keep a patient’s anxiety level lower thanks to the absence of loud and intimidating looking tools.
- Reduced pain levels. The laser’s use of light instead of intense pressure and heat generally allows for a reduction in pain. This can decrease fear of the procedure itself while also indicating the need for a lesser recovery time. Reduced pain levels can be particularly beneficial for procedures being performed on young children.
- Not as much blood compared to dental surgery. Whether you are a patient that tends to get weak at the mere sight of blood or you simply don’t like tasting it amidst an oral procedure, laser dentistry can help. The light beam in a laser is instrumental in helping the blood to coagulate and slow or stop the flow. Because the laser can assist with blood coagulation, it may also alleviate the patient’s need to receive stitches and help them avoid additional follow up visits for stitches.
- Decreased risk of infection. Dental tools that are sharp and pierce the gums could result in gum abrasions or infection in a patient. While the risk of infection is not zero with laser procedures, it does tend to be reduced since lasers help eliminate bacteria as they work.
- Less recovery time. It can be challenging for a patient to find time to get a needed procedure done and an even bigger challenge to find the time for an extended recovery. Fortunately, laser treatments typically require minimal recovery since there is less pain and bleeding to begin with. Most patients say they experienced only minor disruptions to their daily routine after having a laser procedure done at the dentist.
Find Out If Your Houston Dentist Offers Laser Dentistry
While the applications of laser dentistry are growing every day, not all dentists currently provide this service. Be sure to check with your Houston dentist to see if they offer it, and if not, begin your search for a qualified provider.
A few things to look for should include a license to practice dentistry as well as laser dentistry specific training. It can be wise to ask the dentist how many different procedures they have done with lasers and define what types of procedures they were. Because not all treatments can be done with a laser, it is best to find a provider that offers both general and laser dentistry.
If you are facing a dental treatment or procedure in the near future and are interested in how lasers are revolutionizing dentistry, speak with your Houston dental provider to find out more.