Posts for tag: laser dentistry
Periodontal (gum) disease is potentially devastating to your teeth, gums and bone. To fight it we have to remove the substance that causes and sustains the disease from all oral surfaces — a thin layer of bacteria and food particles known as plaque.
To accomplish this task, we use a variety of hand instruments called scalers to mechanically remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits), as well as ultrasonic equipment to vibrate plaque loose and flush it away with water. If we detect plaque deposits well below the gum line and around the tooth roots, we may need to use other techniques like root planing or surgery to access these deeper areas.
Â While gum disease is persistent and aggressive, these traditional techniques have proven quite effective in controlling the infection and restoring health to diseased gums. Yet like other aspects of medicine and dentistry, technological advances have created a new option for gum disease treatment: the Nd:YAG laser.
The Nd:YAG laser is named for the crystal it uses to produce a narrow and intense beam of light on a specific frequency. In recent years it's become an important surgical tool because it can distinguish between diseased and healthy tissue, destroying the former while not affecting the latter.Â It's being used now on a limited basis for treating gum disease, especially for removing infected tissue in deep pockets that can form below the gum line, and for removing plaque and calculus from root surfaces.
Â Because of its precision, early evidence of effectiveness is encouraging: minimal tissue damage and swelling, less bleeding and reduced patient discomfort after treatment. The heat from the laser has also been shown to kill bacteria and essentially sterilize the area.
Still, the findings aren't conclusive enough as to whether lasers are superior in most circumstances to traditional scaling methods. For the time being, we'll continue to use the tried and true methods for removing plaque and calculus. But as laser technology advances, the time may come when this new approach to gum disease treatment will become a more prominent and beneficial option for patients.
If you would like more information on your treatment options for gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Lasers Versus Traditional Cleanings for Treating Gum Disease.”
Although techniques for treating periodontal (gum) disease can vary, they all boil down to one objective: remove the bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) that cause the infection. The initial treatment usually involves two techniques known as scaling and root planing.
Scaling uses hand instruments, ultrasonic equipment or a combination of both to manually remove plaque and calculus from the tooth and root surfaces. Root planing takes it a step further by minutely “shaving” infected material from the root surfaces. While more invasive techniques (including surgery) may be needed, scaling and root planing are the first line of treatment for any recent diagnosis of gum disease.
In recent years, an adaptation to these treatments has emerged using the Nd: YAG laser. The laser uses a particular crystal that’s adaptable for many different types of surgery. In the case of gum disease, it’s been found as effective as traditional methods for removing the infected linings of periodontal pockets. Voids created by detaching gum tissues as bone loss occurs, enlarge the small natural gap between the teeth and gums, which fill with pus and other infected matter. Removing the diseased lining from these pockets reduces bacteria below the gum line and speeds healing.
Periodontal laser therapy may have one advantage over traditional treatments: less tissue damage and swelling, and hence reduced post-treatment discomfort. While some research seems to confirm this, more controlled studies are needed to render a verdict on this claim.
Regardless of whether you undergo traditional scaling and root planing or a laser alternative, the aim is the same — to bring the disease under control by removing plaque and calculus and reestablishing good daily oral hygiene practices. Stopping gum disease as soon as possible will help ensure you’ll have healthy teeth and gums for a long time.
If you would like more information on treatments for periodontal (gum) disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Lasers versus Traditional Cleanings for Treating Gum Disease.”
For years, lasers have revolutionized the medical industry and now they are beginning to do the same within the field of dentistry. However, anytime new technologies are introduced, people naturally will have questions. Here is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
What is a laser?
Lasers are beams of light that are a single wavelength and color. Laser is an acronym derived from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”
How are they different from regular sunlight?
White light is made up of light with many wavelengths corresponding to the visible spectrum comprising the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). Laser light consists of beams of a single color and hence a single wavelength of light, concentrated to a high energy level, which can penetrate living tissue.
How are they used in dentistry?
Dental laser usage typically falls into three categories: disease diagnosis; soft tissue procedures of the gums, lips and tongue; and hard tissue procedures of the bone or tooth enamel and dentin. Examples of the most common hard tissue treatments include the diagnosis and removal of tooth decay, while the most common soft tissue treatments include the removal of gum tissue as it relates to cosmetic dentistry and the treatment of gum disease.
Are they safe?
Absolutely! Before blazing a trail in the field of dentistry, lasers have been used for years in the medical field with research evidence and the FDA approving both their safety and efficacy. In fact, they are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding and less discomfort for patients after surgery. And what could be better than that?
Want to learn more?
We pride ourselves on using the latest, scientifically proven technologies so that we can obtain and maintain optimal oral health for our patients. The word “laser” is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and, within the world of dentistry, lasers are used for a variety of procedures and therapies. Simply put, this means that light from a particular crystalline source is stimulated electronically and by the use of mirrors to high energy levels, which can penetrate living tissue. Specific lasers with different light emitting capabilities can be used in dentistry — some on hard tissues and others for soft tissues like gum and oral mucous (skin) membranes within the mouth. Uses include diagnosing cavities, others for removing diseased gum tissues, for example. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery. For example, using a laser, allows preparation of smaller cavities for fillings by vaporizing away tooth decay often without any anesthesia (numbing of the teeth) or a drill.
While lasers have been effective (and safe) tools for healthcare professionals in the medical field for years, did you know that they are fast becoming a vital tool in the field of dentistry for diagnosing dental disease? Lasers, named from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,” are beams of light that are of a single color and wavelength. They also have the unique ability to help dental professionals detect disease in much earlier stages than they have ever before.
Diagnostic lasers are very effective in diagnosing pit and fissure decay — the tiny grooves of the biting surfaces that cannot be seen by visual inspection or reached by a traditional dental tool. They are able to accomplish this by producing a glowing effect known as fluorescence, which is produced by the optical properties of early tooth decay. This enables us to treat tooth decay in its earliest stages as well as monitor teeth from visit to visit.
Another area where lasers have proven valuable is in the detection and localization of dental calculus (tartar) beneath the gums. Calculus is hardened or calcified bacterial plaque that attaches to the teeth. Using lasers, we can find and remove this calculus during periodontal (gum) therapy. Lasers are also helpful in detecting dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. And should we find any of these conditions, lasers are extremely useful in removing tissue close to the margins or edges of where diseased tissue meets healthy tissue. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery.