No matter what our age, the scariest part about visiting the dentist is the drilling. The smell of our teeth burning or being ground to dust and the dentist poking into our gums with some horrid looking stainless steel tools that looks like they have been procured from some medieval torture armoury.
It will there be a relief to people to know that more and more dentist’s are switching over to laser technology powered tools and retiring the old drill machines.
So what is Laser Dentistry and how does it work?
Just as you would select a knife based on the cutting that needs to be done, so too there are different (three actually), types of lasers that are selected based on the type of work the dentist needs to do. The essential difference is in the strength of each laser with the strongest one used to cut harder stuff such as hard tissue.
In the hands of a highly skilled Periodontist, the laser is like a using microscopic flame to sculpt a wax statue. There’s no drilling noise, there’s no grating sensation inside your mouth nor the fear that the Periodontist might unintentionally cut something else.
If you are technically inclined, there are three types of laser used by the Periodontist these are; the Garnet Laser – used for cutting and coagulating dental soft tissues, with good hemostasis, and for nonsurgical sulcular debridement in periodontal disease control. The second type of laser is the Erbium Laser and is used for treatment of dental hard tissues. The third is the Diode Laser and it is used in procedures for aesthetic gingival re-contouring, exposure of soft tissue impacted teeth, soft tissue crown lengthening, removal of inflamed and hypertrophic tissue, photostimulation of the apthous, frenectomies, and herpetic lesions.
Now let us see how a laser works in the dental environment.
The pinpoint of strong light that is produced by the laser serves to elevate the temperature of the tiny area where the laser is pointed at and it produces photochemical effect the extent of which, depends on the water content of the tissue at that location.
When the laser is switched on, at approx 60°C the protein in the tissue begin to denature but this happens without vaporisation of the underlying tissue. If the temperature is further raised to 100°C, the water content in the tissue is vaporised (this is called ablation). What temperature is selected depends on the procedure to be done.
As mentioned earlier, the whole process is totally silent and so the patient is much more relaxed. The Laser Dentists in the meanwhile keep talking and before you know it, the procedure is complete.