Lasers are being used more and more by dentists all over the United States as both doctors and their patients realize just how valuable they can be in everything from laser cavity detection to root canals to treating periodontal disease. Dental lasers are used in both general and cosmetic dentistry.
The advantages of laser dentistry seem to outweigh the disadvantages:
Pro – Laser dentistry usually means less pain and discomfort for the patient. In fact, in many situations the patient can opt to forgo Novocain shots, medication or general anesthesia.
Pro – Laser dentistry is faster than traditional dentistry and requires fewer follow up visits once a procedure is finished.
Pro – Because lasers are more precise than traditional dental tools, it means the dentist can be more precise when removing diseased tissue, while preserving the tissue and tooth material that is healthy. This is particularly true when using lasers for treating dental caries or removing diseased periodontal tissue.
Pro – With lasers, dentists have the ability to seal tissue. This reduces the need for sutures and results in less bleeding and swelling. Recovery and healing are speeded up as well.
Pro – Lasers may help reduce patient anxiety, particular those with a fear of drills. By contrast, lasers are smaller and quieter.
Con – Lasers are state of the art technology and very expensive to purchase and maintain. The high cost of equipment can translate into a higher cost for patients.
Con – The only other major disadvantage to laser dentistry is that lasers can only be used on bone and tissue. They cannot be used to remove fillings, crowns or other artificial dental structures.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Hye Park
Laser screening devices enable your dentist to detect early stages of tooth decay before they become clinically visible. The ADA and FDA have both approved these devices for the use in screening dental decay in order to provide early, less-invasive treatment. This allows your dentist to place a smaller filling or restoration than if the decay were diagnosed at a later stage. In some cases, fillings may be so small that they do not require the use of local anesthesia or mechanical tooth preparation. Sometimes a sealant or air-abrasion restorative filling may be all that is needed.
DIAGNOdent is one type of laser cavity detection device. It is over 90% accurate and is able to detect weak areas in deep grooves and fissures of the teeth. Deep fissures are often one of the primary locations for tooth decay, but the decay often is not diagnosed or evident until it has expanded into a wider amount of surrounding tooth structure. Aids such as the DIAGNOdent allow the decay deep within grooves to be found while it is in the small beginning stages, before extensive tooth damage is even evident on x-rays. Using this type of device is more accurate than visual inspection, and is beneficial for use alongside of routine diagnostic x-rays. X-rays are still needed to screen for decay and disease between the teeth.
These devices use sound waves and light that are emitted into the tooth. If a weak area is present, the feedback is reflected back into the machine. If compromised structures are present, the device will emit a sound as well as display a numerical reading, signaling a weak area to the practitioner.
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