Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 3-05-2021
Technology is constantly changing, providing new and innovative ways to improve health. Dental care also benefits from technological advances. A perfect example is laser dentistry. Since the 1960s, dental researchers have been developing the potential uses for laser dentistry to treat tooth decay and address other oral health challenges.
Here we look at the evolution of laser dentistry and what it means for your teeth and oral health.
What is laser dentistry?
Lasers are ultra-focused light beams. They can be used for a variety of dental procedures from removing overgrown tissue to cosmetically reshaping the gums, and from whitening teeth to healing canker and cold sores. The concentrated light is minimally invasive which means many procedures have become more comfortable. The heat produced offers an immediate boost to the healing process, reducing bleeding and the risk of infection.
Lasers deliver energy through light which allows dentists to ‘cut’ tissue very precisely. The laser can also be applied for teeth-whitening procedures, providing a heat source to activate the tooth-bleaching gel.
The Introduction of Safe Laser Dentistry
In the 1990s, dental researchers finally found a safe and effective way to use lasers for patient treatments. Although it took decades, they developed proper wavelengths that could provide patients with soft tissue and enamel treatments without risk of damage. Although lasers had been used for limited specialized oral treatments in the 1980s, they had yet to become a common treatment at your local dental office. However, once they zeroed in on the right wavelengths, the tools could be developed and also become available to all dental offices.
Original Dental Laser Treatments
Once lasers became commercially available, dentists had their pick of different options including diode lasers for soft tissue treatments and erbium and carbon dioxide lasers that worked for both soft and hard tissue. The main issue at this point was that the lasers were very costly, so most dentists chose not to invest in them. In addition to this, the dentists that did choose to offer laser dentistry had to charge a high price for treatments. This meant that a lot of patients were unable to access the benefits of laser dentistry.
Laser Dentistry Today
Eventually, laser dentistry became more affordable. This allowed more dentists to invest in the tools and offer effective laser treatments to their patients. Both patients and dentists alike discovered the benefit and uses of this minimally-invasive treatment option. About 10% of all dentists, including our team, now offer laser dentistry in some form.
Laser Dentistry Treatments
Today lasers can be used to alter or remove tissue quickly and comfortably. It is ideal if you feel anxious about dental treatments as it eliminates the need for sutures and can often be performed without anesthesia.
As mentioned above, one of the biggest benefits of laser dentistry is the sterilizing effect of the lasers. This decreases the risk for infection, reduces bleeding and speeds up the healing process. Laser dentistry can be used for a variety of procedures including:
- Tongue Tie And Laser Frenectomy: Tongue-tie can interfere with a newborn baby’s ability to breastfeed. This negatively affects both the baby (who becomes frustrated and is also at risk of not thriving) and the mother (who suffers from anxiety as well as breast issues including cracks, bruises and pain during feedings).
A frenectomy corrects the tongue tie by separating the offending ‘frenulum’ from the tongue. The laser is faster and safer than using a cutting method, keeping your baby comfortable both during and after surgery.
- Cold Sore and Canker Sore Laser Treatment: Cold sores and cankers are embarrassing and uncomfortable. Laser therapy can be applied before the sore appears once you feel the initial tingling or pain. When caught early, symptoms are reduced and sometimes you can even prevent the sore from forming.
- Gingivectomy and Gingivoplasty: Gingivectomies and gingivoplasties are dental surgical treatments for periodontal disease and other gum-related issues. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place.
Traditionally, scaling and root planing are used as treatments. However, more advanced cases require surgery. This treatment can also be used for cosmetic purposes, to improve gummy smiles or uneven gum contouring. Using lasers instead of a scalpel provides treatment with less pain and faster healing.
- Laser Whitening: There are also laser whitening treatments available. The use of lasers helps speed up the process. Often patients get the desired results in as little as one or two treatments.
Our team can discuss all of these treatments with you to determine if they offer the right solution for your needs.
Other Applications for Laser Dentistry
There are many other possible applications for laser dentistry including:
- Treating root canal infections
- Exposing wisdom teeth for extraction
- Removing throat tissue to treat sleep apnea
- Regenerating damaged nerves
- Removing benign oral tumours
- TMJ laser therapy
We can discuss your individual conditions to see if they are suited to laser treatments.
Benefits of Laser Dentistry
There are many benefits to laser dentistry including:
- Procedures go more smoothly
- Reduces discomfort
- Quicker healing
- Reduced risk for infection
- No need for sutures in many cases
- Anesthesia is often not required
- Lasers automatically sterilize the gums
- Less damage to the soft tissue
- Less bleeding
Advances in laser dentistry have made this highly effective treatment more accessible and more affordable. As a result, more dentists can now offer laser treatments to their patients.
If you would like more information about laser dentistry, call Milltown Dental at (905) 878-8528 or contact us here.