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What are LASERs and how do they work?
Lasers show up in an amazing range of products and technologies. You will find them in everything from CD players to high-speed metal cutting machines to measuring systems. They all use lasers. But what is a LASER? And what makes a laser beam different from the beam of a flashlight?
LASER stands for : -
- Amplification by
- Emission of
LASER light is quite different from normal light. It has the following properties : -
- The light is monochromatic : - It contains one specific wavelength of light (one specific color)
- The light is coherent where the photons are organised and the waves of light move in unison
- Collimation : - This means the light is very directional. A laser light has a very tight beam and is very strong and concentrated. A lightbulb, on the other hand, releases light in many directions, and the light is very weak and scattered
Application of Laser Dentistry
The application of lasers in dentistry opens the door for dentists to perform a wide variety of dental procedures they otherwise may not be capable of performing. Dentists using lasers in dentistry have become adept at incorporating the state-of-the-art precision technology into a number of common and not-so-common procedures.
- Hard Tissue (Tooth) Laser Dentistry Procedures : -
Cavity Detector: Low intensity soft tissue dental lasers may be used for the early detection of cavities by providing a reading of the by-products produced by tooth decay.
- Dental Fillings/Tooth Preparation : -
Hard tissue dental lasers may eliminate the need for a local anesthetic injection and the traditional turbine dental drill. Lasers used in dental filling procedures are capable of killing bacteria located in a cavity, potentially leading to improved long term tooth restorations. However, dental lasers are not appropriate for the replacement of amalgam fillings, onlays or crowns.
- Tooth Sensitivity : -
Dental lasers may be used to seal tubules (located on the root of the tooth) that are responsible for hot and cold tooth sensitivity.
- Soft Tissue (Gum) Laser Dentistry Procedures : -
Other Laser Dentistry Applications : -
- Crown Lengthening : -
- Gummy Smile : - Dental lasers can reshape gum tissue to expose healthy tooth structure and improve the appearance of a gummy smile.
- Muscle Attachment (Frenula): - A laser frenectomy is an ideal treatment option for children who are tongue tied (restricted or tight frenulum) and babies unable to breast feed adequately due to limited tongue movement. A laser frenectomy may also help to eliminate speech impediments.
- Soft Tissue Folds (Epulis) : - Dental lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of soft tissue folds often caused by ill-fitting dentures.
- Viewing Tooth and Gum Tissues : -Optical Coherence Tomography is a safer way to see inside tooth and gums in real time.
- Benign Tumors : - Dental lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of benign tumors from the gums, palate, sides of cheeks and lips.
- Cold Sores : - Low intensity dental lasers reduce pain associated with cold sores and minimize healing time.
- Nerve Regeneration : - Photobiomodulation can be used to regenerate damaged nerves, blood vessels and scars.
- Sleep Apnea : - In cases where sleep apnea is a result of a tissue overgrowth in areas of the throat (which sometimes occurs with age), a laser assisted uvuloplasty or laser assisted uvula palatoplasty (LAUP) procedure can be performed to reshape the throat and relieve the correlating breathing problems associated with sleep apnea.
- Teeth Whitening : - Low intensity soft tissue dental lasers may be used to speed up the bleaching process associated with teeth whitening.
- Temporomandibular Joint Treatment : - Dental lasers may be used to quickly reduce pain and inflammation of the temporomandibular jaw joint.
LASERs as an alternative to the surgical scalpel
- Re-contouring of bone and gum (crown lengthening).
- Oral surgery - Gingivectomy, Gingivoplasty, Frenectomy ,Leukoplakia removal, Biopsies,
- Tissue fusion - replacing sutures
- Implant exposure (2nd stage of implants)
- Incisions and draining of abscesses
LASERs can be used in Endodontics (root canal treatment)
- Low pain removal of nerve tissue
- Drying and Sterilization of the root canal
- Single visit therapy sometimes possible
LASERs in the Treatment of gum disease
- Calculus removal below gum line
- Periodontal pocket decontamination
- Destroys bacteria involved in gum disease
- Promotes healing of gums and reattachment to root surfaces
- Acute gum infections
What are the benefits of LASER dentistry?
There are several. This technology offers benefits to the patient as well as enabling the dentist to provide higher quality dentistry.
Here are some of the major benefits : -
The LASER operates using very short pulses of energy. The pulses are so quick that the reaction threshold of nerves is not reached. Because of this anaesthetics are often not required for many procedures.
LASER sterilises in action
Germ-destroying effect: Bacteria are vaporised instantly resulting in maximum germ reduction. LASER energy heats up and evaporates the moisture within bacterial cells.The cells explode and die.
- Reduced procedure time and efficient operation with less trauma
- Minimally invasive and precise: areas outside the laser beam are unaffected.
What are the advantages of LASER surgery ?
- LASERs are more gentle than other methods of cutting hard and soft oral tissue
- Sterilises treatment area
- Minimal anaesthetic required
- Less bleeding and swelling
- Reduced need for stitches
- Promotes fast healing: Operations with Lasers result in little or no post surgical discomfort
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