Laser treatment is the next big thing in dentistry–what is it all about? 

By: Hannah Otoole

A particular subject in dentistry that I am interested in is the new upcoming use of lasers in the dental office. Many people get scared thinking of going to the dentist, and also lasers. When you put both of them in the same equation, you can guess that some will question it. However, laser use is a relatively new and advantageous treatment option for those with chronic problems with the gums, particularly periodontal disease.

But first, here is some background information (Links to an external site.) on these dental lasers. Laser use in dentistry actually dates back to the 1960’s. They are used to reduce the permeability of enamel, and prevent acid erosion from cariogenic foods–simple carbohydrates found in sugars, artificial syrups, and pastries. Back then, lasers could only be used in oral surgeries, but nowadays, even dental hygienists in some states can be licensed to use laser treatment with patients with periodontal disease for deep cleaning procedures. Laser treatment is becoming more popular in the dental community, there are new innovations  (Links to an external site.)being introduced almost every day!

The dental laser also kills the bacteria that makes plaque, and gives patients with periodontal disease the opportunity to visit the dentist less often. For patients with periodontal disease, it is recommended that they visit the dentist every three months, rather than the usual six-month recall. On top of laser treatment, regular home care will keep patients healthy. As stated before, in dental hygiene, lasers are usually used alongside scaling and root planing, and keep bacterial levels at bay. But here are a few other uses (Links to an external site.) for the dental laser:

  • Ulcer removal
  • Pit and fissure sealants–a covering over the biting surface of a tooth to prevent cavities.
  • Crown lengthening
  • Whitening treatments
  • Biopsies
  • Orthodontics

So, pretty much anything and everything you could ever need from a dental visit, can now be done with lasers.

Practicing dentistry alongside lasers also serves as a wonderful state of the art option for continuing education, which all practitioners need to take advantage of to stay licensed. Being introduced to lasers in the dental workplace can be confusing at first, since dental professionals have a strong background in biology, rather than physics. The main part about working with lasers is to get a good understanding of the light spectrum, as different wavelengths equate to a different function for a laser.

Americans do not completely understand the importance of gum health. Bacteria on teeth can also be found in heart disease and kidney disease. To conclude, with exciting new developments like laser treatment to keep bacteria levels from getting unhealthy, it can help us have more interest and awareness on how to treat our gums like any other system in the body that needs to stay healthy.