02/04/2010  |  
Posted in Dental Technology
Experience Less Postoperative Pain with Laser-Guided Dentistry

Since the mid-1960s, lasers have proven to be powerful surgical tools. The word “laser” is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation,” which means that the intense and narrow beam of light is of one wavelength.

A medical laser device includes a source of electricity, mirrors to direct the beam, a crystal or gas that is stimulated to emit the light, and tubing to deliver the light energy. The nature of the material through which the light passes determines the specific properties of the laser and therefore what it can do in the human body. Lasers have also revolutionized many surgical procedures, minimizing bleeding, swelling, scarring, and pain. And now they're beginning to blaze a new trail in dentistry.

The potential benefits of laser use in dentistry include procedures done on soft tissues of the mouth with patients reporting less postoperative pain. Laser surgery seals off nerve endings, so recovery is less painful but healing may be slightly slower, because the laser also seals off blood vessels which would bring clotting and other factors to help heal the tissues. Lasers in some dental applications eliminate the noise of the instruments like high pitched dental drills.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted marketing clearance in 1991 for soft tissue surgery and hardening of composite resin dental filling materials. In 1997, the first hard tissue dental applications were introduced. Most recently, FDA clearance has been granted for using dental lasers on children. Today, there are over 17 different dental laser applications that can help patients achieve better oral health.

The Food and Drug Administration has granted Premier Laser Systems, Inc. the first-ever clearance to market a laser system for caries removal, cavity preparation and related applications.

In the year 2000 it was estimated that 10% of dentists were using Lasers and that number is growing as laser therapy becomes refined and research progresses for dental applications. Watch for more on Laser Guided Dentistry in upcoming issues of Dear Doctor magazine.

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