Lasers have been used in a variety of medical procedures, such as those used by dermatologists to remove skin abnormalities, or cold lasers that treat pain, inflammation and headaches, for example. But you may not know that lasers are also used in dental procedures. You might think that use of lasers in dentistry is new technology, but lasers were actually first used in dental procedures way back in 1960. Of course, it took several years before the use of lasers became as commonplace as it is today, but by the 1990s many dentists were using lasers for a wide variety of dental procedures. Some of these include the following:
- Gum disease treatment – Lasers are often used to remove bacteria from gum tissue, such as in root canal procedures. Lasers are also very helpful in reshaping gum tissue, like removing a portion of the gums to correct a “gummy smile,” for example.
- Tooth decay removal – Lasers have been shown to be very effective in removing decay from teeth, such as in preparation for a filling or crown.
- Teeth whitening – Some teeth whitening services involve use of a laser to speed up the whitening process.
- Removal of lesions – Lasers are helpful in the removal of lesions inside the mouth, as well as removal of tissue for biopsy purposes.
Lasers provide several advantages for the dentist and the patient. Lasers are typically much less painful than use of invasive instruments to perform the same procedure. When patients know this, it can help to alleviate any anxiety they might be feeling. Procedures performed with lasers cause much less bleeding and swelling of the gum tissues. And lasers allow gums to heal more quickly since there is less bleeding and swelling, which means that it requires less time for the patient to recover afterwards.
Although many dentists use lasers for a variety of procedures – most with great success – you should know that the American Dental Association has still not awarded their Seal of Acceptance to any dental laser system or tool. The seal shows that a dental device or product has met the ADA’s standards for safety and efficacy. Lasers have been approved by the FDA, however, and even the ADA has stated that it is “cautiously optimistic” about the benefits of laser use in dental procedures.
For more information about how (or if) your dentist utilizes lasers during dental procedures, call your dentist office. They can explain which procedures involve lasers, and help you decide whether you would like your dentist to use laser treatment, or if you’d prefer a more traditional approach to the procedure.