Dr Maryam Dawjee reports on the marvel that is laser dentistry – a new tool that provides a modern, innovative, and overall more comfortable approach to dental care…
Without a doubt, laser dentistry is one of the greatest advancements in dental technology to date. Since the use of lasers was first introduced to the dental field in 1989, it has constantly evolved and progressed through study and clinical application. When you think of lasers, the first thing that probably pops into your head is the trusty old laser pointer (commonly used for presentations and lectures) – or perhaps a scene from one of the ever popular Star Wars episodes. Whichever one it is, you’re actually on the right track – as when de-constructed from a scientific-physics perspective, laser dentistry doesn’t really differ from either of those examples.
Types of Lasers
In this particular article, I’m going to focus on two specific types/brand of lasers which are currently being used in dentistry: the Diode laser and the Erbium laser. While these two differ in their structure and resulting dental application, they both offer a procedure that is not only pain-free, but requires no anaesthetic or drilling machines. Needless to say, all of these benefits provide you with an alternative to the regular anxiety ridden trip to the dentist.
Now under these lasers, there are two different systems that are commonly used: the ErYSgg hard tissue laser-Waterlase ™, and the Diode 980nm-Epic 10 ™ laser.
The Waterlase-I plus™
This is a dual functioning laser system that can be used to precisely cut cavities, remove decay (both minimally and more extensively), de-bond old crowns and veneers – as well as perform a variety of minor soft tissue surgery. Amazingly, all of this is done with little to no anaesthetic – and in some cases, laser use also resulted in a reduced need for the anxiety ridden high speed drill. Additionally the Waterlase™ can also be used to disinfect root canals, thus improving the success rate of root canal treatments.
Another valuable addition to the dental practice is the use of lasers on paediatric patients. Fascinated by the look, excited by the sound and coupled with the reduction or elimination of the need for anaesthetics, dental anxiety in children can be reduced. This results in a change in the dental experience as a whole, and consequently in life-long dental care as well. The effect of laser treatment is also precisely controlled.
Sufficient energy is delivered to directly target and alter the state of the tissue, whilst at the same time ensuring there is minimal collateral damage to adjacent cells and structures. The Waterlase™ is also advantageous in its ability to treat and manage soft tissue of the oral cavity. It can be applied to modify gingival aesthetics, aid in aesthetic smile design, remove and heal apthous ulcers and perform minor oral surgeries.
The Epic 10™
The Epic 10™ is a diode laser smaller than the Iplus but equally valuable in dental treatment. The benefits offered by this little machine have proven to be unmatched and unlimited. TMJ pain is a chronic and common condition amongst many individuals, which can now be effectively managed and treated with the Epic 10™. A key use in the practice is the facility of photo-tobio-modulation, or the low-level laser therapy function.
Through the application of light energy on a tissue site, we are able to elicit a biological response from cells, while normalising cellular functioning.
The results of which include tissue repair, inflammation, pain relief and repair of nerve damage. We have also found significant change in the present of neuropathic associated pain, thus reducing the discomfort experienced and dependency on prescription analgaesia
Application of the Epic 10™ can also be used for laser whitening. The limited exposure of the whitening agent to the laser energy results in reduced post-operative sensitivity that is commonly associated with whitening. Additionally, the functions include biopsies, healing of apthous ulceration and herpetic lesions (fever blisters), minor soft tissue surgery and post-operative photo bio-modulation.
Post-operative photo bio-modulation improves healing by reducing the post operative pain and swelling, thereby reducing the patients down time. It is also useful in reducing muscle spasm associated with long dental treatment appointments, as well as assisting in the reduction of dentine hypersensitivity.
Laser Technology – The Pros and Cons
The benefits of both lasers in dental practice is constantly growing and evolving. Due to the effect of the laser on blood vessels, there is reduced bleeding during surgical procedures, shorter appointments, a reduction of anxiety associated with dental treatment, precision and reduction in collateral damage to adjacent structures – and lastly, improved healing through the application of photo bio-modulation.
Interestingly, the lasers in actuality do not emit a sound. The misconception that lasers in fact do, is all thanks to one Mr Ben Burtta – the sound engineer of Star Wars. It was during filming that Ben (armed with a tape recorder, microphone and hammer), climbed a nearby radio tower and proceeded to beat one of the guide wires while recording the sound of the strikes. Add a bit of post-production – and suddenly laser had a sound.
Don’t be surprised if whilst sitting in the dental chair you start to feel a sense of familiarity as your senses put two and two together. I personally feel that replacing the angst ridden sound of the dental drill with a bit of Star Wars whizzing is an added benefit to any laser dental treatment.
This article was written by Dr Maryam Dawjee and edited by the A2 team EXCLUSIVELY for the A2 Aesthetic & Anti-Ageing Magazine Winter 2015 Edition (Issue 14).
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