Just as laser technology has changed the medical field, it has also brought some positive changes to the dental world. Many dental professionals, such as my dentist at Birch Dental Group, have found that laser technology in dentistry has changed how some procedures are performed, even creating new treatments not previously possible.
Lasers have actually been used in dentistry since 1994. They work by transferring energy in the form of light. They have the ability to be used as sources of heat as well as a cutting instrument. This is how they are used.
- Oral Surgery: To begin with, lasers are used to expose teeth during oral surgery, acting as a kind of scalpel to help cleanly make an incision to remove teeth. If you have a large lesion in your mouth, such as a large canker sore, a laser can remove it, taking away the pain.
- Gum Reshaping: If you have a cosmetic concern about your gums, gum reshaping with laser technology can change how your gums look.
- Removal of Inflammation: The same process that removes and reshapes gums is also used to remove gum tissue that has disease or bacteria. This can be done to help ward off periodontal disease or can assist in removing bacteria during a root canal.
- Removal of Decay: Some dentists use this technology to help remove decay within a tooth instead of the traditional drill. The results are the same, killing off caries causing the problem, but protecting the surrounding enamel. They are more commonly used to help prepare the surrounding tooth structure for a filling after decay has been removed.
- Tooth Whitening: Lasers are also used to help whiten teeth. The peroxide solution that is normally used for take-home whitening can have faster results if done with the use of a laser. They still put the peroxide solution in trays on your teeth, but a laser is directed at the teeth, which helps speed up the entire process, allowing whitening to happen within the day rather than the weeks that the take-home trays normally take.
- Biopsies: A biopsy is when a piece of tissue, known as a sample, is removed in order to be tested for the possibility of cancer. Lasers can be used to take that sample of tissue instead of a sharp instrument. The process is much quicker and the wound that is created by removing the tissue is instantly cauterized.
- Tongue Ties: A tongue tie is when the connective skin that keeps your tongue in place is too long or large, restricting the movement of the tongue. A laser can quickly cut through the extra skin, allowing the tongue to have freer movement. Tongue ties often cause speech issues and can cause feeding problems in babies.
No matter how you look at it, the introduction of lasers into the dental field has been so groundbreaking, that procedures that normally would have taken regular surgery or would even have taken a while to achieve, now only take a matter of minutes or even seconds, depending on the procedure.