What is laser dentistry? Very simply, it is an area of dentistry that involves the use of lasers during any number of cosmetic, plastic, and corrective surgeries and procedures.
Laser dentistry can address a range of minor and major oral health issues, including those related to gum disease, obstructive sleep apnea, hypersensitivity, tooth decay, nerve regeneration, biopsy, and teeth whitening. In the case of teeth whitening, the laser serves as an efficient heat source. This is known to amplify the effects of tooth-whitening solutions.
Lasers can also provide relief from the discomfort caused by cold sores and tooth sensitivity, repair aged fillings, and remove tiny bits of tooth enamel. Dentists sometimes use lasers to prepare the enamel for bonding and to remove muscle attachments that control lip mobility. They also use them to reshape and remove inflamed gum tissue.
With so many applications in oral health, it’s clear that lasers are effective in enhancing dental treatments. But are they safe for use in the mouth? Let’s take a look.
What is a Laser?
The word “laser” itself is an acronym that stands for “light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation.” The laser instrument produces a thin, focused beam of light energy that can be used to reshape or remove tissue. The laser is computed in wavelengths that result in thermal outputs, which helps dentists to determine the potential effects of a laser on a patient’s oral tissues.
Lasers can minimize bleeding and ease anxiety in patients who don’t like having drills or other sharp instruments in their mouths. They can preserve more of the healthy parts of teeth that have cavities, and they might cause less pain than traditional methods. They often also cost about the same as drilling when all is said and done.
Are Laser Dental Treatments Safe?
Medical lasers have been FDA-approved. They are deemed safe for use if a dentist is using accepted best practices and the patient is wearing special goggles to protect his or her eyes. When compared with the drills used in dentistry, lasers may cause less damage to surrounding oral tissues.
Training is generally offered by professional organizations, dental schools, and manufacturers. Dentists must receive training on each of the lasers they use, such as low output power or middle output power lasers. They are also only allowed to use lasers for specific conditions and treatments, depending on the laser’s design. These precautions allow patients to benefit from cutting-edge treatments while enjoying safety and peace of mind.
Dental Sedation and Laser Therapies
Sedation services can be used for patients who have a strong gag reflex or very sensitive teeth. Those who have experienced past dental traumas or whose mouths don’t easily get numb might also be candidates for sedation. Sedation can be a good solution for those who have a fear of the dentist or complex dental problems.
Going under sedation could also provide a solution for individuals who are embarrassed about the condition of their teeth or gums. Finally, patients who find dental tastes, noises, or smells unpleasant might also get some benefit from sedation.
Types of Sedation
Patients who are under conscious sedation can breathe on their own and can respond to instructions, whereas patients under general anesthesia are completely unconscious. In the case of conscious sedation, there are four ways in which it may be administered to patients.
First, medication may be introduced into the patient’s bloodstream via an IV tube. IV patients don’t typically remember their dental procedures.
Second, a sedation pill may be given to patients. The pills may be difficult to absorb and, therefore, can provide unpredictable levels of sedation. They are used in cases where only a mild relaxant is needed.
Third, nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, might be administered through a breathing mask. This method produces few side effects and there’s no loss of memory.
Lastly, there is computer-generated anesthesia. It involves the use of tiny needles that administer anesthetic to a given location. It can anesthetize one tooth or a more sizable area of the mouth.
Laser Therapy & Sedation
LANAP® Laser Periodontal Therapy is used to help patients who have gum disease to manage or reverse their gum deterioration. The procedure is designed to do so without pain, cutting, bleeding, or swelling. Traditional gum surgery might involve the cutting and peeling back of the gums to clean the tooth surface at the root, after which the gums would be sutured or stitched back in place.
LANAP® Laser Periodontal Therapy involves a more comfortable, less-invasive procedure and might allow for a faster recuperative period. The therapy is performed while the patient is under IV sedation and may be completed in one visit.
Laser gum depigmentation is another service that might benefit some patients. People who have dark or discolored gums often feel that their appearance is adversely affected by the condition and want to improve their smile with laser gum depigmentation. But smokers might also be candidates because of a condition called “smoker’s melanosis” which darkens otherwise pink gums.
Laser Dentistry in Miami
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a Miami-area dentist with 25 years of experience who specializes in periodontal care, dental implants, laser dentistry, and sedation dentistry. He also performs dental cleanings and examinations. To schedule an appointment, please call our bilingual office at (305) 547-8687 today. We look forward to hearing from you.