The term Laser is an acronym for ‘Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation’. In the last two decades, there has been an explosion of research studies in laser application.
In hard tissue application, the laser is used for caries prevention, bleaching, restorative removal and curing, cavity preparation, dentinal hypersensitivity, growth modulation and for diagnostic purposes, whereas soft tissue application includes wound healing, removal of hyperplastic tissue to uncovering of impacted or partially erupted tooth, photodynamic therapy for malignancies, photo stimulation of herpetic lesion.
Use of the laser proved to be an effective tool to increase efficiency, specificity, ease and comfort of the dental treatment. Lasers primarily work by delivering energy in the form of light. Compared to the traditional dental drill, lasers may cause less pain and thereby reduces the need for anaesthesia. It also helps reduce anxiety in patients uncomfortable with the use of the dental drill and also minimises bleeding and swelling during soft tissue treatment.
When used for surgical and dental procedures, the laser acts as a cutting instrument or a vaporiser of tissue that it comes in contact with. Now more dentists are now using lasers to treat soft tissue applications such as:
1. Wound healing
2. Post herpetic neuralgia and apthous ulcer
3. Photoactivated dye disinfection using lasers
4. Photodynamic therapy for malignancies/cancers of the mouth
5. Aesthetic gingival (gum) re-contouring and crown lengthening
6. Exposure of unerupted and partially erupted teeth
7. Removal of inflamed, hypertrophic tissue, and miscellaneous tissue removal
Laser dentistry can also be used for hard tissue applications such as:
1. Photochemical effects-to cure and strength resin fillings
2. Small cavity preparation, caries, and restorative removal
4. Treatment of dentinal hypersensitivity
It is good to know that while most dental lasers are relatively simple to use, certain precautions should be taken to ensure their safe and effective operation. Wearing protective eyewear in the vicinity of the laser, while it is in use is extremely crucial. This includes the doctor, chairside assistants, patient, and any observers such as family or friends. It is critical that all protective eyewear worn is wavelength-specific.
Dr Prashant Abhishek is Specialist Dental Surgeon and Endodontist at Al Wassan Specialty Dental Center