What is a Dental Laser?
Laser devices have been creating tightly focused beams of light for over half a century now, but the technology hasn’t resulted in the ray guns that are shown off in science-fiction movies, thankfully. Instead, real-world applications for the optical technology have evolved into two distinct camps. There’s the passive laser that reads bar codes and DVDs and the active group, the high-energy beams that focus on microscopic areas to form ultra- fine incisions. Surgical procedures have taken a keen interest in this last application because the high-energy output has a secondary role, that of cauterizing the point of contact. Let’s leverage this application further and apply it to dentistry, showing potential patients the wonders of a dental laser. (see: http://www.dentistry.umn.edu/dentalce/courses/perio-diode-laser/index.htm)
The instrument tray of a trained dentist consists of physical tools made from the finest metals and synthetic
materials, but a dental laser is a relatively new addition to this selection of instruments. No contact is required, not when the tightly converging energy radiating from the dental laser can go to work around a tooth with unparalleled precision. The beam is a safe and effective technique for treating gums and sealing blood vessels in the oral cavity.
The result is less pain and reduced bleeding during a dentistry procedure. Plus, I don’t know about anyone else, but the high-pitched whine of the dentist’s drill can make me break out in a sweat, and there’s the potential for laser technology to replace this intrusive little drill. I can’t wait. (source: lightscalpel.com)
Back to the present, and low-powered lasers are far more versatile to control than comparable physical instruments. The light can be regulated, controlled to work in delicate areas where nerve clusters cause serious amounts of pain, discomfort that even an anesthetic can’t salve. And nothing cuts cleaner than light, a factor that again reduces bleeding and makes for a faster recovery with fewer stitches. The lasers in question tend to use carbon dioxide as the gaseous medium and the excitement of the photons within the instrument is regulated by a series of mirrors and complex optics. I accept the technology behind the technique with a nod and a slightly awed expression, but it’s the results that put the lid on which instrument I’d voluntarily go under. On the one hand, a scalpel or bladed instrument that physically cuts into my gums and leaves bleeding blood vessels, or, and I can’t emphasize this enough, a non-invasive tech that never makes contact with soft tissue. It cuts precisely and seals the area after the cut. (See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17803380)
Look for even more examples of laser dentistry for bleaching teeth, carrying out biopsies, and for future applications that include possible tooth regeneration.