Since 1994, laser has been utilized by dentists as a form of treatment for numerous dental problems. This type of laser is different from those used in phototherapy to relive pain, inflammation and headaches. The use of laser in dentistry has long been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, it still hasn't received the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association (ADA). This particular seal is a symbol of assurance that a certain product or device meets the safety and efficacy standards set by the organization. The ADA states that despite that, it is positive about the potential contributions of laser in the field.
Here are some of the ways laser is used in dentistry:
Dentists use laser as form of treatment for tooth decay. Laser can remove decay within the tooth. It also makes the enamel ready for receiving the filling. After that, laser is used to harden the filling.
Laser is used in reshaping the gums and removing the bacteria from a root canal procedure.
Although not used frequently for this purpose, some dentists make use of laser to remove lesions inside the mouth. Sometimes, it is also used for pain relief in canker sores.
Biopsy refers to the process of getting small piece of tissue to examine it and determine if there is presence of any cancer cell. Laser can be used for this process.
While most over-the-counter whitening products are effective, what makes them even more potent if done inside the dentist's office is the use of laser. Laser speeds up the whitening procedure. When the dentist applies a peroxide bleaching solution on the surface of the teeth, it is activated by laser energy so that the whitening process becomes apparent more quickly.
How do these lasers work?
Laser delivers energy in the form of light. It is used for dental procedures either as a cutting instrument or vaporizer. It can also harden a filling and make the bond stronger. It also serves as a heat source to speed things up during the process of applying tooth bleaching agents.
What are their pros and cons?
The main advantage of laser is that it inflicts less pain compared to dental drills. It thereby reduces the need for anesthetics. Most patients are uncomfortable with the dental drill but they feel safer when laser is being used. There's also less bleeding and swelling when this is used especially for soft tissue treatments.
As for the cons, it cannot be used on teeth that already have fillings. It also can't be used for various dental procedures like for filling up cavities between teeth or those that are around old fillings. It also cannot prepare the teeth for bridges or remove defective crowns. On top of these, laser treatments are usually very costly. Laser can range from about $39,000 to $45,000 while the traditional drill only sets you back for $600.