How CO2 Lasers Improve your Dental Health & Experience
Advancements in technology are progressing daily. In the field of dentistry, the same is certainly true. When you think about it, you might notice several changes and developments in your regularly scheduled dental visits over the years. We have witnessed this evolution in the transition to digital X-Rays, improved materials for fillings and tooth replacements, intraoral cameras and scanning, and so much more.
Laser dentistry is one such advancement that has become increasingly popular thanks to a great deal of research emerging in the last 20 years. Although laser dentistry was first explored in the 1960s, its applications in modern-day practice have finally taken off. The research shows remarkable efficacy and safety in the use of lasers to perform a wide variety of oral health procedures. Laser dentistry also improves the patient’s experience. While certain dental procedures are often met with anxiety and the expectation of discomfort, performing these procedures with a laser is less invasive and virtually pain-free.
What is CO2 laser dentistry? What is it capable of and what are its limitations? Read on for a deeper look at everything you need to know about one of the biggest developments in modern dentistry.
What is CO2 Laser Dentistry?
A “LASER” refers to a thin, intense beam of light. The term itself is actually an acronym for ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’. CO2 lasers produce a consistent infrared wavelength measuring 0,600 nm. This wavelength enables a dentist to accurately cut tissue as well as cause the tissue to coagulate efficiently.
When used in dentistry, lasers are extremely effective in several ways. C02 lasers used by dentists are minimally invasive, relatively painless, and can be used on hard or soft tissue in the mouth. Their use decreases the need for anesthesia, and also cauterizes as it goes, thus reducing bleeding and often eliminating the need for stitches. Lasers are also incredibly precise and even sterilize the area on which they are used. This eliminates the need to drill a tooth in many cases, and quickens the healing process while lowering the risk of infection.
As we can see, laser dentistry provides many helpful benefits. For those who feel anxious about undergoing oral health procedures, laser dentistry is an excellent alternative to put one’s mind at ease.
What Procedures Can Dental Lasers Perform?
Dental procedures using lasers are divided into two categories: Hard Tissue and Soft Tissue procedures. As you may have guessed, hard tissue procedures are those which treat the tooth and bone areas, whereas soft tissue procedures refer to the treatment of the gums, cheeks, and muscle areas. Here are some of the most popular applications of CO2 lasers used for oral health:
- Tooth Decay Removal - Decay is removed by the laser, preparing the tooth for the filling.
- Teeth Whitening - Using a laser allows for a faster whitening process. This is one of the most popular uses of lasers in dentistry.
- Tooth Sensitivity - The laser can seal tubules responsible for hot and cold sensitivity in the tooth.
- Cavity Detection - Lasers allow for earlier detection of cavities than traditional methods
- Treating Gum Disease - The laser can reshape the gums and remove bacteria.
- Biopsy - The laser can easily remove a piece of tissue for any necessary examination.
- Frenectomy - A laser can quickly resolve a tongue-tied baby’s difficulty with breastfeeding by releasing the frenulum. Frenectomy is also often helpful for those with speech impediments.
- Crown lengthening - This reshapes both soft and hard layer tissues to create stronger foundations for treatments to restore teeth.
- Gum Visibility - Reshapes the gums to expose more tooth structure and improve the appearance of a gummy smile.
If you are new to the idea of lasers in dentistry, one of your first questions might be about the safety of their use. While CO2 lasers are very powerful, they are also incredibly safe and effective in dental practice. As previously mentioned, CO2 lasers have been studied in dentistry since the 1960s, meaning they’re not as new to dentists as it might seem. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved the use of CO2 lasers in dentistry, deeming them safe in a dental care setting.
A large amount of evidence stands as to why the use of lasers could actually ease your mind for your future dentist visits. The tools used in traditional dentistry to clean and drill have a much higher potential to cause damage and irritation with a slight slip of the hand. Lasers, on the other hand, are incredibly precise and perform very delicate tasks with ease. Dentists also protect their patients’ eyes during laser procedures to further ensure health and safety. Furthermore, because of the laser’s ability to sterilize the area it works on, patients enjoy a lower risk of infection and reduced healing time.
Advantages and Limitations of Laser Dentistry
When compared with traditional dental methods, the use of a laser has many advantages. Here is a summary of some of the improvements CO2 lasers contribute to dental care:
- It aids in coagulation (or clotting) resulting in less bleeding or need for stitches.
- It sterilizes the site it works on, which lowers risk of infection.
- It is relatively painless, meaning there is reduced need for anesthesia.
- It is less anxiety-inducing than a traditional dental drill.
- It is accurate, precise, and minimally invasive allowing for shorter healing windows.
With all its benefits, there are some limitations to what laser dentistry is capable of.
- Lasers cannot be used on teeth that already have fillings.
- Sometimes laser dentistry can be more expensive to the patient than traditional dentistry.
- Laser use has the potential to damage tooth pulp.
- Not all procedures can be performed with a laser such as bridge preparation or crown removal.
The few drawbacks of today’s state of CO2 laser dentistry are far outweighed by the many important advantages this new method provides. Due to the high precision, safety, efficacy, and speed of CO2 lasers, treatments using them result in more positive outcomes with fewer complications. Over time, we are likely to see this technology expand to even greater capability.
At Family Dental Health Center, we are here to meet each of our patients’ various oral health needs and address any of your concerns. We are proud to offer the latest in CO2 laser technology to provide you with the highest level of care with greater peace of mind. For any further information regarding laser dentistry or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.