Reviewed by: Paul Selinger, DMD
In dentistry, lasers can adopt a variety of functions. Lasers may be used as a heat source, a cutting tool, and even a “tissue vaporizer.”
Lasers emit light and deliver quick pulses of heat energy to the treatment area. The wavelength of light used depends on the type of tissue treated. Specifically, lasers can be used to remove areas of tooth decay, re-shape gums, and remove lesions like canker sores. In contrast to more traditional tools like the dental drill, lasers work silently, quickly, and specifically. The accuracy and specificity are huge advantages and allow the dentist to conserve as much healthy tooth and bone as possible. Laser use may reduce anxiety in patients who fear the drill, and it also reduces and in some cases eliminates the need for an anesthetic.
Despite the advantages of laser treatment, lasers are not appropriate tools in all cases. For example, lasers cannot be used to treat teeth with old fillings, cavities between teeth, or very large cavities. The high cost of lasers in comparison to more traditional dental equipment can also be a drawback. In addition, special eye protective devices must be used by the dentist, assistant, and patient.
Last updated: 19-May-10