Laser Dentistry- Past, Present, and Future12 Nov, 2015
Laser Dentistry- Past, Present, and Future
The History of Laser Dentistry
LASER is actually an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The original concept of laser technology came to Albert Einstein in the early 20th century. He articulated the mathematical formula that led to lasers becoming a reality in the 1960's. The first functional one, a ruby laser, emitted irregular pulses that researchers worried weren't appropriate for medical applications.
As development continued, the CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser and the Er:YAG (erbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) laser were created. These were found to be appropriate for both hard and soft tissue dental procedures. The following decades saw the tweaking and perfecting of these advanced dental tools. In 1990, the first dentistry-specific laser was released to dental care practitioners.
The Role of Lasers in Dentistry
You may be perplexed as to how lasers can improve dental treatment. What about them makes them right for handling oral tissues? The answer lies in lasers' precise and unique method of affecting teeth and gums. A laser emits a specific wavelength of monochromatic light. When focused, this light forms a narrow beam of energy. Because the light is a certain wavelength, it affects tissue in a predictable, exacting way. This means that treatment tends to produce fewer side effects (like microfractures in the teeth).
Lasers are especially desirable to patients with dental anxiety. A great deal of dental fear stems from the sights and sounds of the drill. Lasers transform treatment by eliminating that high-pitched whine and the drill's sharp point. A dental laser tends to be much quieter and create nothing more than a clicking sound and the potential light spray of water. As treatment ablates tissue rather than cutting it by means of friction, it also allows for more comfortable treatment and a quicker healing time.
Lasers in Contemporary Dentistry
Today's lasers are wide-ranging in treatment capabilities and construction. Different wavelengths of light produce different effects, and are appropriate for an impressive variety of applications. The broad types of modern dental lasers include:
Soft tissue lasers - These lasers aim to effect the gums in different ways. They tend to be most utilized in removal of infected tissue (to treat periodontal disease), cosmetic reshaping of the gum line, and even surgical procedures like lingual frenectomies. Post-laser treatment, the patient tends to heal more quickly than if the procedure had been performed with standard tools.
Hard tissue lasers - When a patient has a cavity or is receiving a dental restoration, the tooth needs to be prepared. Hard tissue lasers cut teeth to allow veneers, crowns, and fillings to fit into place. Laser tooth prep feels more comfortable than prep via dental drill, and patients may not always require dental anesthesia.
Teeth whitening lasers - Whitening has become more efficient with the aid of whitening lasers. These tools catalyze hydrogen peroxide gel to stimulate whitening effects. Lasers help to break up staining compounds, even when discoloration is deep in the enamel. They also help patients with sensitive teeth whiten comfortably.
Decay and oral cancer detection lasers - It's imperative that your dentist is able to recognize oral cancer and decay in their earliest stages. Disease detection lasers cause unhealthy tissue to fluoresce, creating a visual tell when something isn't right.
Continuing Development of Dental Laser Technology
As the effects of laser treatment are still being researched, there's a huge potential for growth in the laser dentistry field. One day, lasers may be an important part of every dental treatment, allowing you to feel even better in the dental chair and allowing dentists to deliver the best possible work. Ask your dentist about lasers available at their practice to learn more about your options.
Seeking the laser dental experience for yourself? Those in the Washington, D.C. area need look no further than Cherrywood Dental Associates. Schedule a consultation to learn about the soft tissue laser's role in your upcoming treatment.