Periodontics

Why Some Periodontists Use Lasers

Jun 27 • 4 minute read

Why Some Periodontists Use Lasers

When you imagine lasers in healthcare, dentistry probably doesn't come to mind.  However, dentistry is  one of the industries where lasers are finding a new and exciting home in the world of medicine. In fact, one recent study has indicated lasers may soon be used to regrow tooth enamel.

For periodontists, lasers could be the newest and most accurate way of performing dental work. Here, we'll describe exactly how these lasers can be used, as well as explore why lasers work so well:

The Basics

It sounds like some prehistoric, winged creature that flew about during the Cretaceous period, but a periodontist is actually a type of dentist. If you've ever heard of periodontal disease, you can probably guess at their special niche. These dental specialists are the wizards of this disease, specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of it.  Since the infection may lead to teeth replacement and swelling, they also work with dental implants and oral inflammation.

A Quick Lesson About Gum Disease

If you ever want to appear more intellectual with dentistry, just say "periodontal disease" instead of gum disease. Gum disease occurs when the tissues that hold your teeth in place become infected. When bacteria builds up in the form of plaque from lack of flossing and brushing, it hardens into tartar. Once this sticks onto your teeth for long periods of time, tooth decay occurs.  Without regular cleanings, the disease can lead to sore gums, teeth loss, receding gums and chewing pain. It's a periodontist's job to discourage the disease from forming or to treat a patient who has periodontal disease symptoms.  

Lasers in Dentistry

Lasers were first introduced to dentists in 1960 with the creation of the ruby laser. Five years later, Director Ralph H. Stern and Dr. Reidar F. Sognnaes discovered the machine could vaporize enamel. From there, research continued as new types of lasers were introduced.

The application of lasers for soft and hard tissues was shortly developed, with a notable turn in 1990 with the production of the Nd:YAG.

Today, lasers are used for a variety of dental issues:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Biopsies
  • Lesion removals
  • Teeth whitening

They are FDA-approved.

The Advantages of Lasers for Periodontists

Lasers provide a number of helpful benefits that cannot be achieved elsewhere:

Disinfection

Low power lasers can be used to disinfect pockets of bacteria in patients with periodontal disease. This technique utilizes photoactivated dye (PAD), which is effective in killing bacteria.  The great thing about this application is that it is minimally invasive and works better than antibiotics. The dye used in the PAD technique can be manufactured to eliminate specific bacteria species. This makes it much more effective than antibiotics, which the bacteria may be resistant to.

Pain

Following tooth extraction or root canals, low-level laser therapy is a perfect option. According to experts from the Aligarh Muslim University, it is 100% effective in treating the after-surgery pain caused by bacteria and inflammation.

Curettage

Are you familiar with the scraping tool that makes you cringe every time it's stuffed into your mouth? That's a curette. Their primary use is to scrape bacteria out of your gums, which can lead to bleeding and pain. For patients suffering from gum disease, this is a standard procedure called periodontal debridement. However, lasers are making this process more efficient and less painful. When assisting in curettage, laser technology has been shown to greatly decrease bleeding. Furthermore, there is much less risk of chronically recurring gum disease, which is possible with manual techniques.

Root Planning

Root planning and scaling go hand-in-hand. If an individual has chronic gum disease, this is one of the procedures necessary to treat the condition. First, the plaque and bacteria are removed from your teeth and root surfaces. The second step involves root scaling.  During this process, the dentist smooths the roots' surfaces. This discourages future bacteria buildup, allowing gums to heal and attach themselves better than before. Now, lasers are also aiding with root scaling. The process is called potassium-titanyl-phosphate (KTP) laser therapy.

Ablation

Ablation is the process of removing bodily tissue. Lasers play a significant role in ablation, in what is known as the laser-assisted new attachment procedure (LANAP) protocol.  Where invasive and painful surgery was once needed, now lasers can comfortably remove unhealthy tissue  As in the other cases, patients who experience this procedure enjoy faster healing times and minimal discomfort afterward. 

Reshaping Gums

Since many patients with periodontal disease suffer from deformed or uneven gums, dentists can use ablation to reshape the gums entirely.  For many individuals, this can mean the difference in creating a confident, attractive smile!

Teeth Strengthening

Terrified of the drill?  Lasers can help here, too! Whether it's making your teeth cavity-resistant or strengthening them in the face of tooth decay (a common symptom of periodontal disease), some of this newest laser technology can quite literally change your teeth's chemical composition. Using the perfect wavelength and pulses, a 2012 study demonstrated carbon dioxide lasers can transform your enamel's usual carbonated hydroxyapatite to hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite has a higher resistance to bacteria-produced acid.  After evaluating patients who had undergone the laser surgery a year prior, researchers discovered fewer signs of decay than before the procedure.

That's Not so Scary

The next time you walk into a dental office, you might want to prepare for a light show. Now, that's not so terrifying, is it?

Like many of their peers in other departments, periodontists are enjoying the new laser technology introduced to the dental industry. More importantly, patients are benefiting!

Less dangerous tools in our mouths? Quicker healing? Less pain?  Check, check and check.  These laser treatments provide a much more streamlined and comfortable treatment option for patients.

Do you need some periodontal work? Thinking about seeing that dazzling light show? Bring your pearly whites our way and give us a call to keep those teeth healthy. 

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