Dental news alert! (Our favorite kind of alert, of course). This past week, a Harvard team found that they could trigger tooth growth with a low-intensity laser. This has implications for so many types of dental problems – although teeth are the hardest part of the human body, they don’t self-renew the way other tissues do. This study showed stem cell growth and development into dentin (the part of the tooth below your enamel) in rats. While they’re preparing to move into human trials, we’re thinking about lasers.
Laser dentistry has been an incredible modern dental tool since it appeared on the scene decades ago. Because lasers work differently than standard tools like drills or scalpels, they make for more comfortable treatment (for patient and dentist). And with developments like this one on the horizon, we have a feeling lasers will continue to grow in estimation within the dental (and medical) world. Curious as to what that could mean for your mouth? Read on for a discussion of the role lasers could play in your dental treatment.
How Do Dental Lasers Work?
Lasers approach soft and hard tissue in a specific, careful way. A laser’s output is a certain wavelength of light energy. This light is focused into a narrow beam, which is then used to manipulate tissues. Different lasers use different strengths, with some having tissue-specific effects. Because each laser employs a certain wavelength of light, the results are highly predictable and easily-controlled. Lasers may be automatically tissue-specific, leaving healthy tissue untouched but cutting diseased tissue away.
Dental lasers do cut tissue (like a drill), but they do so without creating friction, which is associated with heat and patient discomfort. The light energy ablates tissue (vaporizes it), protecting the area and neatly removing any disease. Different lasers approach their task in various ways; a few of the most common dental laser types include:
Teeth whitening lasers – Whitening lasers catalyze the hydrogen peroxide in whitening gel, yielding speedy results without causing sensitivity. The laser energy helps the whitening gel penetrate the enamel and set off chemical reactions that break up stains.
Teeth-specific lasers – Hard tissue lasers aid dentists in tooth prep prior to fillings, veneers, crowns, or bridges. Laser treatment is more comfortable than work with a dental drill, and may remove the need for anesthesia.
Gum-specific lasers – Soft tissue lasers make it possible to alter the gums in ways that were previously trickier and more painful. A soft tissue laser is able to remove oral growths, assist in periodontal treatment, perform cosmetic surgery, and reduce the overall healing time for the patient.
Disease detection lasers – Diseased tissue fluoresces when exposed to certain types of light. Hinsdale Dentistry uses the VELscope Vx to screen for oral cancer at your checkups.
How Could Laser Dentistry Play a Role in My Life?
We’ve listed the specific procedures laser dentistry could be involved with, but there’s still a larger question at hand. What will laser dentistry personally do for you? Quite a few things. We think the most impressive are:
Lasers keep you comfortable
Lasers soothe dental anxiety (both by reducing the need for anesthesia and relaxing the needle-phobic, and by making the entirety of treatment more comfortable).
Lasers protect your mouth during and after treatment (by promoting fast healing).
And lasers’ capabilities are only going to improve over time. Today, a laser is preparing your tooth for a crown; tomorrow, it could be regenerating tooth tissue to naturally rebuild damage. Want to learn more about lasers and your patient experience? Get in touch with Hinsdale Dentistry today.