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The Health Benefits of Laser Dentistry

Although dental lasers were first conceptualized in the 60s, it wasn’t until the 90s that the technology emerged as a viable option for dental procedures. It took decades to develop a laser that could be safely and efficiently used with dental tissue, but they’re now available and around 10 percent of dental practices have adopted them.

Patients are embracing laser dentistry, too, for several reasons. But first, a quick introduction to the technology.

What Are Dental Lasers and What Procedures Can They Be Used For?

Since lasers were invented more than 60 years ago, they’ve been adapted for a multitude of applications. The first lasers were underpowered, imprecise, and inefficient compared to today’s models, but engineers honed the technology with better substrates and amplification methods, leading to the advanced laser tools we have today.

The dental lasers in practice today fall into one of four categories, including:

  • Erbium lasers – Can be used in hard and soft tissues applications and have been thoroughly researched and cleared by the FDA.
  • Nd:YAG lasers – Ideal for soft tissue applications and frequently used for periodontal treatment. Nd:YAG lasers have the unique advantage of promoting blood coagulation, so they’re also used postoperatively to reduce bleeding.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers – Originally used for soft tissue treatment only, there are newer CO2 laser models that are effective for hard oral tissues like dentin and enamel. In use for decades, carbon dioxide lasers are prized for their excellent precision, which allows dentists to make precise incisions.
  • Diode lasers – Only used for soft tissue applications but has some anti-bacterial capabilities, too, so diode lasers are also effective in supporting periodontal treatment.

Together, these dental lasers can be used in an array of procedures, including:

  • Diagnosing and classifying dental caries (tooth decay)
  • Biopsies
  • Periodontal pocket cleaning
  • Various restoration and surgical procedures
  • Gingivectomy (removal of gum tissue and used to treat gum disease)
  • Frenectomy (removal of tongue or lip tie)
  • Surgical extractions
  • Alveoloplasty (shaping jaw tissue)
  • Operculectomy (removing soft tissue flaps over wisdom teeth)
  • Treating peri implantitis (inflammation around dental implant)
  • Removing benign growths or tumors

Every branch of dentistry can be performed with better precision and less patient discomfort using dental lasers. Next, we’ll address why laser dentistry is rising in popularity among Houston TX dental professionals and their patients.

Six Ways Patients Can Benefit from Laser Dentistry

There are several advantages to laser dentistry, including:

  • Reduced pain and discomfort – Dental lasers are extraordinarily precise instruments, penetrating mere micrometers into the tissue. Because they only affect the tissue’s top layers, dental lasers are less likely to trigger nerve endings in the gums or teeth. For the patients, this means less pain and discomfort during and following treatment.
  • Reduced bleeding – Dental lasers aren’t as hard on the mouth as metal tools. They’re far more precise, so dental lasers are less likely to strike blood vessels during treatment. Also, some lasers effectively cauterize vessels as they pass over them, sealing them off and preventing them from bleeding. For patients that have trouble seeing, feeling, or tasting blood, dental lasers can be a major relief.
  • Reduced risk of infection – Reputable dentists take every precaution needed to prevent post-treatment infection, but no amount of caution is as effective as dental lasers at avoiding infections. In fact, dental lasers may be used specifically to kill off the bacteria most likely to cause infections, which is why it’s a common option for periodontal procedures.
  • Reduced risk of “collateral” damage – Dental lasers are far more precise than metal tools, so they’re far less likely to cause damage to tissues that aren’t being targeted.
  • Reduced recovery time – Since dental professionals can target only the tissues they need to with dental lasers, patients usually recover faster from treatment. And they do so with less pain and swelling.
  • Reduced need for sutures – Sutures prolong the recovery process and may require the patient to return for removal. With laser dentistry, sutures are often not required.

Dental Laser Technology is Ideal for People with Dental Anxiety or Sensitive Teeth

For many patients, dental anxiety starts as soon as they make an appointment. It’s particularly common among children, who may be startled by the sound of a dental drill, or the pressure caused by dental tools.

As dental lasers create minimal sound and zero pressure, laser dentistry is a good fit for anyone who has trouble relaxing at the dentist. It’s also a good fit for people with sensitive teeth, which affects around 12 percent of Americans at any time (sensitivity tends to come and go). Dental lasers do not trigger those sensitive nerve fibers as readily as metal dental tools, so they are a welcome alternative for patients who can’t tolerate the sensation.

Laser Dentistry Results in Less Pain, Less Bleeding and Lower Risk of Infection

As a science, dentistry has evolved greatly over the centuries. Every new tool or procedure is a step forward for the field, and dental lasers are the next step in advanced oral healthcare. More dental practices have embraced the technology, and this trend is growing. It’s easy to see why, as dental lasers resolve a host of issues that patients have with dental treatments – including pain, discomfort, bleeding, and recovery time. Dental laser technology offers a host of benefits for patients, providing excellent results.

Ready for a kinder, gentler form of dental treatment? Laser dentistry may be the right fit for you and your family. Contact your trusted Houston TX dentist about laser dentistry.

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