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Lasers in Dentistry: New Technology for Pain-free Dental Visits

By HERWriter
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The space age has arrived. No longer are lasers something that are only used in movies. Increasingly, lasers are finding a niche in many aspects of life, and this includes dentistry.

Laser technology used properly by a skilled dentist means highly specific areas of the mouth and teeth can be treated with minimal pain, without anaesthetics or damage to surrounding tissues, and shorter recovery times.

Unfortunately, the technology is so new that only about 6 percent of general dentists have laser technology available in their offices. For those who are lucky enough to be a patient of one these dentists there are many benefits, particularly for those who experience anxiety at the mere thought of a dental appointment.

The Benefits of Lasers in Dentistry

- can be used on soft tissue (gum) instead of stitches
- may negate the need for local anaesthetic in some treatments
- minimizes bleeding because the laser aids in clotting
- sterilizes sites thereby minimizing infection
- allows faster tissue regeneration and healing

Practical Laser Dentistry

Detecting cavities – Low intensity lasers usually used for soft tissue (gum) can also be used to detect early signs of tooth decay. The lasers can read the effects of the decaying process even before they're deep enough to be visible on an X-ray.

Tooth preparation for fillings – Lasers used for hard tissue or bone eliminate the need for the use of local anaesthetic in many cases, and the traditional dentist’s drill. Imagine the sound of a dentist’s office with no drills! Lasers cannot be used to replace amalgam fillings, onlays or crowns, though.

Sensitive teeth – Sensitive teeth are cause by the reaction of tubules located on tooth roots to hot or cold. Lasers can be used to seal these tubules so they no longer react so strongly to temperature changes.

Inside your teeth – Through the science of Optical Coherence Tomography , dentists can use lasers to safely see inside teeth and gums in real time, providing a more accurate visualization than standard dental X-rays.

Add a Comment3 Comments

As a dental wimp, I am really interested to hear about this technology. I cannot imagine how it would feel to me if I no longer had anxiety about going to the dentist! Is there any difference in how most insurance plans cover laser dentistry vs. traditional dentistry?

August 24, 2009 - 8:44am
HERWriter (reply to Diane Porter)

That may be something for another article, but I imagine they don't really care whether your cavities were fixed or root canals done with traditional instruments or with lasers - although I can see laser treatment costing more. The percentage of coverage is probably the same. If your provider gives you 80% coverage, then that's what you get regardless of how that treatment is provided.

Insurance companies are notoriously slow for "getting with the program" when it comes to new technologies that make our lives and dental treatments much easier/better/long-lasting. Many still will not cover implant placement, such as it is. They will provide the patient with the equivalent amount they would have awarded if the patient had gone with a traditional bridge towards the implant treatment, but they do not, yet, cover the actual implant treatment.

As with most things - at least in Canada, not sure about the U.S. - specific procedures and the percentage of the coverage varies from provider to provider.

August 24, 2009 - 8:58am
EmpowHER Guest

My dentist at the Arizona Center for Laser Dentistry was able to use the laser to do my dental work with the advantages of basically no pain, and on one of my teeth they didn't even need to use a shoot to get me numb and I had a shorter and more comfortable recovery. They say you can have that a dreaded root canal treated with the laser! WOW! They have the latest in laser technology by using minimally invasive treatment of an infected tooth. Now I hear you have other options in dentistry like CEREC 1 day crowns and porcelain fillings (not plastics). My dentist used/made me a CEREC restorations which is a SAME DAY all porcelain crown. Same day! It did not contain any metal, which is not only safer for your mouth but looks good too! I was able to get everything done in one day (didn't have to take off work again to come back and get the final crown!) I would really recommend this Laser dentistry office for adults and KIDS too!

August 21, 2009 - 10:28am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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