How Are Lasers Used in Dentistry?

Your first thoughts of a dentist appointment may be of flossing, cleaning, or drilling. You may not think about the possibility of your dentist using lasers on your teeth. A laser is a concentrated beam of light—an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.

It might sound like science fiction, but dentists commonly use lasers in their offices for many reasons. They are safe and effective for manipulating and reshaping hard and soft tissues. Patients have also noted that laser treatments are less painful than traditional procedures.

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What Do Dental Lasers Do?

Dentists can use lasers in many ways, from restorative to cosmetic procedures. Many treatments that involve restoring gum health due to gum disease—or periodontitis—can use lasers.

During a periodontal disease treatment, you may need flap surgery to reduce the pockets left behind from gum recession. Your dentist will use a laser to create a small incision that will allow them to properly scale and root plane your teeth.

Lasers are also quick and effective for removing tissues. If you need a tooth extraction, a laser can remove the tissue that surrounds your tooth, which can lead to faster healing times. For more intense procedures, your dentist may even use a laser to reshape and remove bone and gum tissue.

Other than tissue removal, lasers are used to prepare teeth for fillings or dental crowns. They can speed up the teeth whitening process as well.

What Are the Benefits of Using Lasers?

Due to their nature, lasers can reduce the amount of bleeding during and after a procedure because they promote clotting. They are also precise, so there is less damage to the surrounding tissues. You may be less likely to need stitches after a procedure.

With less trauma to your soft tissues, lasers advance faster healing times and cause you less pain during and after your treatment. You may not even need anesthesia for certain procedures. Since lasers sterilize the area in which they are used, you are much less likely to develop an infection post-procedure.

What Are the Potential Disadvantages of Lasers?

Dentists cannot use lasers on all teeth or for all procedures. Some patients might not have eligibility for this type of treatment. Teeth that have certain types of fillings or pre-existing issues with your teeth or gums may prevent you from having a laser treatment.

Not every procedure done with a laser will reduce the chances of using anesthesia or drills. Depending on the severity of the treatment, you may still need an anesthetic to avoid discomfort. While a dentist can use a laser on your teeth, they may still need to use traditional methods, such as a drill, to complete your procedure.

Though the risk is small, there is a slight chance that you may experience an injury to your gums or teeth. While the concept of a laser might seem scary or foreign, dental lasers are safe to use and are approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.