Is Laser Dentistry Right For You?
The dreaded dental appointment. With all the shots, drilling, scraping and prodding, it's as frightening as a Stephen King movie. That’s where laser dentistry comes in. Although not new, laser dentistry is gaining in popularity. Read on to find out the basics and see if laser dentistry may be right for you.
- What is laser dentistry?
Laser dentistry has been around since 1989 and has been used commercially since 1994. In laser dentistry, the dentist uses a laser, instead of other tools, to detect and remove decay and prepare teeth for other repairs, such as fillings, crowns or root canals.
- How does it work?
When the laser comes into contact with tissue, it has a reaction that allows the tissue to be removed or reshaped. There are two types of lasers used in dentistry: soft tissue lasers and hard tissue lasers.
- How are lasers used?
There are many ways lasers can be used in dentistry. Here are a few ways your dentist may use lasers at your next appointment.
Soft tissue lasers can be used to:
- reshape “long” gums or rebuild receding gums
- kill the bacteria from periodontal disease
- reshape gum and bone tissue to fit a crown
- remove extra tissue to make dentures fit better
- remove the little strip of skin, the frenulum, that sometimes attaches the tongue or lip to the gums
- remove tumors or lesions
- stop the pain from canker sores and cold sores
- remove excess tissue in the throat causing sleep apnea
- whiten teeth
Hard tissue lasers are used to:
- detect cavities earlier than other methods
- remove decay to prepare a cavity for filling or other treatments
- reduce tooth sensitivity
- kill the bacteria before filling a cavity
- Do lasers work better?
There are many benefits to using lasers over drills. One benefit is that the sight of lasers is less alarming than that of drills and sharp tools. Not only is a laser less scary, but in some cases, the pain is decreased and anesthesia isn’t even necessary. In soft tissue procedures, there is less bleeding and less need for stitches. There is less chance of infection because the lasers sterilize the area and kill the bacteria. All of this leads to quicker healing. Lasers also do less damage to the surrounding areas of the mouth and can even encourage the regeneration of tissue.
- Are there any risks?
As with any procedure, there are some things to be aware of. There is a chance that lasers could damage the gum tissue or the tooth pulp. If the lasers are used improperly or at too high of a temperature, there could be other damage as well.
- Can all teeth be treated with lasers?
Not all teeth or areas of the mouth are treatable with lasers. Lasers can’t be used on teeth that have some types of fillings, like metals. In some cases, drilling or anesthesia will be needed, even with the use of lasers.
- Who can benefit from laser dentistry?
There are many benefits of using lasers in dentistry. In many cases, laser dentistry is less expensive than its traditional counterpart. No drilling, no scraping, and less anesthesia may be significant for people who don’t like dental work, especially children. There are even some pediatric dentists who specialize in treating children with lasers, like those at alligatordentist.com.
- Where can I find a dentist who uses lasers?
Ask your insurance company for a list of approved providers in your area. Talk to your friends and family about dentists they have liked. When you find a dentist who offers laser treatments, find out about their training.
While using lasers in dental work has been approved by the FDA, the American Dental Association has not put its seal of approval on the practice. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t safe and effective. Find an experienced dentist and do your research to find out if the risks are worth the rewards for you.
If you are one of the many people who dread seeing their dentist, laser dentistry may be worth checking out.