13 Facts About Laser Dentistry You’ll Wish You Had Always Known
Bringing lasers from the big screen to your dentist’s chair.
Lasers might sound like they belong in Star Wars and other science-fiction-meets-fantasy stories, but they’re very real—and very useful. In fact, lasers are becoming an increasingly common, cutting-edge tool in dentistry. Their success in laser dentistry is largely thanks to their incredibly wide range of uses and benefits compared to traditional tools.
Despite this, dental lasers are still a recent enough development that you might not know much about them. Since they have the potential to transform many dental treatments, you may want to get a little more familiar with the best laser dentistry practices and uses. To make this easier, we’ve collected 13 facts about laser dentistry that you’ll wish you’d always known.
1. Laser dentistry can be used on soft and hard tissue.
When you first hear of dental lasers, you might assume that they’re a cutting-edge piece of technology that’s only used in specific ways—and you’d be about half right! Dental lasers are an incredible piece of technology, but they’re also surprisingly versatile, allowing them to be used for a wide range of procedures. Dr. Alhadef uses Biolase Technology’s Waterlase MD system, which can be used for soft and hard tissue procedures. This laser uses a combination of water and laser technology to do its job, all without producing heat or vibration. It’s honestly amazing to watch this technology at work!
2. They can be used to remove tooth decay and old metal fillings.
Since dental lasers can be used incredibly effectively on hard tissue, they can remove tooth decay and old metal fillings. In some cases, dental lasers virtually eliminate the need for a dental drill. The Waterlase MD system’s laser is much quieter than a drill and doesn’t produce heat or vibrations in your mouth, which is often much less stressful if drills make you nervous. You might find that dental procedures are more comfortable with a dental laser—and that’s always a win!
3. Laser dentistry only causes minimal damage to the surrounding tissue.
Did you know that decaying tissue has a higher water content than healthy tissue? This simple fact gives dental lasers the incredible ability to target and remove only decayed tissue, leaving healthy tissue intact. Dr. Alhadef uses this ability as well as the increased precision of lasers to target decay more effectively. The result is a more complete removal of decay with minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue—which is a major plus in both the short and long term!
4. Dental lasers cause minimal bleeding and sometimes make sutures unnecessary.
When they’re used to cut your gums or other soft tissues in your mouth, the high-energy light beams emitted from dental lasers actually seal off blood vessels as they cut. Doing this creates minimal bleeding—so much so that they sometimes make sutures completely unnecessary! Less bleeding improves Dr. Alhadef’s visibility during your procedure, allowing him to work slightly faster and with more precision. Similarly, avoiding or limiting sutures eliminates an extra step in the procedure, potentially shortening your treatment time! It also makes the healing process more comfortable for you.
5. Laser dentistry can make anesthesia unnecessary during some procedures.
Another major benefit to dental lasers is that they’re virtually painless. During some procedures, they can even make localized anesthesia unnecessary! When this is possible, it removes the need for you to get numbing shots in your mouth, saving you having to wait for it to take effect and therefore shortening your treatment time. As a bonus, it also prevents you from experiencing the awkward “fat lip” sensation while you wait for the anesthetic to wear off after your procedure. It sounds odd that foregoing anesthetics could make a dental procedure more comfortable, but this can sometimes be the case with dental lasers!
6. Dental lasers minimize the risk of bacterial infections.
It’s amazing enough that dental lasers seal wounds as they cut, but they don’t stop there—they sterilize as they cut, too! Bacterial infections are a common complication following dental procedures, especially if the procedure was meant to eliminate decay caused by bacteria, but lasers minimize this risk by sterilizing the area. By preventing bacterial infections, lasers can work wonders for your long-term treatment outcome!
7. Laser dentistry encourage wounds to heal faster.
Generally, procedures using dental lasers have a faster healing time than those using traditional tools, like scalpels. The ability of dental lasers to help prevent bacterial infections plays a role in this, but it’s not the only reason. The lasers actively encourage wounds to heal faster by stimulating tissue to regenerate, and this includes everything from gum tissue to bone. Faster healing times mean less discomfort for you and for a shorter period of time. It also means that you’ll be able to get started on the track to better long-term oral health sooner!
8. Dental lasers treat gum disease.
Since lasers are incredibly precise and can target decay and kill bacteria while leaving healthy tissue intact, they’re an ideal tool for treating gum disease. If you have gum disease, Dr. Alhadef may use dental lasers to sterilize the area, reduce your chances of infection, and save as much healthy gum tissue as possible. Your gums have a vital job supporting your teeth and protecting your tooth roots from decay, so leaving more healthy gum tissue intact is better for your long-term oral health. Plus, saving more of your gum tissue helps maintain your natural gum line, protecting the appearance of your smile.
9. Laser dentistry sterilizes infected tooth roots.
If you have severe gum disease, Dr. Alhadef may also use a dental laser to sterilize infected tooth roots. It helps him reach the infected area much more easily and with minimal damage to healthy tissues, then kills harmful bacteria, and removes any tartar hardened on the surface of the tooth root. Additionally, encouraging tissue growth helps your gums and the ligaments and blood vessels inside them recover quickly, forming a seal around your newly clean tooth root to protect it from future threats.
10. They help heal fever blisters, ulcers, and canker sores.
The unique skills of dental lasers, including their precision and ability to target and sterilize decay, also make laser dentistry a great way to help heal fever blisters, ulcers, and canker sores. Dr. Alhadef can quickly and precisely remove these sore spots without impacting nearby healthy tissue—all while sterilizing any bacteria to prevent the emergence of new sores in the future. Since lasers are often painless, this procedure provides immediate relief for many patients. Plus, the tissue regeneration that lasers kickstart helps ensure that your gums will heal quickly!
11. Laser dentistry can help desensitize overly sensitive teeth.
Tooth sensitivity can be an annoying and painful condition, but it’s not one that you have to simply live with! Dental lasers can be used to help desensitize overly sensitive teeth. We’re not completely sure what causes this treatment to work, but the standing theory is that the lasers reduce the permeability of your dental fluid. Multiple studies have demonstrated that the treatment reduces the degree to which hypersensitive teeth experience sensitivity related to temperature and touch.
12. They’re used to place dental implants.
The same qualities that make lasers ideal for so many other procedures—reduced blood loss, increased precision, faster and easier healing times, and a lower risk of infections—also make them a great choice for use in implant placement procedures. They can improve your treatment experience, help you heal faster, and increase your chances of a successful implant procedure.
13. Laser dentistry can be used to shape teeth and lengthen crowns.
Since dental lasers can be used on soft and hard tissues, they can be used for a range of cosmetic dental treatments as well. They can quickly and seamlessly change the shape of your teeth to improve their appearance slightly or to prepare them for cosmetic treatments like veneers. Similarly, laser gum contouring can be used to resolve a gummy smile, which is when a greater than usual proportion of your teeth is covered by gum tissue. It can make your smile look disproportionately “gummy” with small teeth, but your teeth are generally an average size underneath your gums. Removing this extra gum tissue with laser gum contouring can transform your smile, giving you new-found confidence in it.
Dental lasers might sound like science fiction, but they’re a very real—and very available—dental technology. It’s a good thing they are, too, as they can completely transform your experience and outcome for a wide range of dental procedures! If you’d like to learn more about laser dentistry and how this cutting-edge technology could help you, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Alhadef at any time.