When most people hear that their dental conditions can be treated with lasers, they naturally have a few questions. Although using a laser to zap away infected tissue and eradicate cavities might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, lasers have been used in dentistry since 1994. Here are just a few of the ways laser dentistry is used at Dental Excellence to improve your experience.
One of the things that most patients dislike about getting dental fillings is the drilling to remove decayed portions of the tooth. In addition to feeling the vibration of the drill, many patients struggle with the smell and dust associated with drilling. However, lasers have transformed cavity removal. These lasers work by heating the water molecules present in the decayed portion of the cavity, forcing the damaged section to expand and dislodge from the rest of the tooth. In addition to preventing the kind of micro-fractures that traditional dental drilling can cause, laser-assisted cavity removal is fast, dust-free, and relatively painless. In fact, many patients who undergo laser cavity removal don't even require anesthetic, making this method perfect for children and people with severe medication allergies.
Dental lasers can also be used to reshape gum tissue. Since the gums frame the teeth, an uneven gum line can make some teeth look smaller, larger, or less shapely than they actually are. Gum contouring helps our dentists to quickly, efficiently, and gently reshape your gum tissue to improve the look of your smile.
When dental decay is left unchecked, plaque, tartar, and bacteria can build underneath your gums, inflaming the tissue and causing your gums to pull away from your teeth. Over time, gum disease can cause deep pockets between your teeth and gums, which in turn harbor even more grime and bacteria, which aggravates the condition. Eventually, gums can recede so severely that it can affect the stability of the teeth, and your teeth can fall out and cause your jaw to resorb. Periodontitis, which is severe gum disease, has even been tied to serious systemic health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer.
One of the most powerful ways lasers have changed dentistry is by improving the treatment for gum disease and periodontitis. To clean out the bacteria that forms in the periodontal pockets, dentists have traditionally used a technique called root scaling and planing. During this procedure, the gums are lifted away from the teeth, the area is scraped clean, and the surfaces of the teeth are polished smooth. Unfortunately, this procedure is time consuming and invasive. Patients are often left with incisions, swollen gums, and a relatively long recovery time.
However, the Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure, also referred to as LANAP, has changed the way that gum disease is handled. During LANAP, a small laser tool about the width of a paper clip is placed into the pocket between the teeth and the gums. The tool works by simultaneously eradicating diseased tissue, sanitizing the area, and creating a helpful blood clot that helps to seal the space. In addition to allowing periodontists to eliminate infection without damaging the gums, the LANAP procedure is also much faster than a traditional scaling and planing procedure and the recovery time is significantly reduced. Patients undergoing LANAP typically have a 24-hour recovery with minimal discomfort, and enjoy less gum recession, improving the look of their teeth.