21st Century Laser-assisted Dentistry
By Dr. Anthony Cardoza
Over the last 29 years, I have witnessed many technological advances in dentistry. Some of these advances have included computers throughout the office, digital X-rays, digital intra-oral photography, loupe and microscope magnification, and CAD/CAM technology, just to name a few. One of the most significant technological advances has been the evolution of the dental laser, and it’s this technology that’s really firing my passion for dentistry.
Lasers have been used in dentistry for several decades, but during the last five years they have become widely accepted and now tens of thousands of dentists in the U.S. and around the world have implemented lasers. Market acceptance of dental lasers is rapidly growing at a level where digital imaging was five to seven years ago.
In my practice we have several lasers for both hard- and soft-tissue applications, which are used for a wide range of procedures. It’s well-established that different procedures require different laser wavelengths. Wavelength is important because specific body tissues (chromophores) interact in different ways depending on the laser source. Therefore, it’s important to use the proper wavelength that is tissue-specific for the procedure.
The following are a few of the laser procedures performed in our office every day and the clinical advantages they offer our practice and, most importantly, our patients.
The near infrared diode laser has become my laser of choice for hygiene and soft tissue. It’s extremely effective for hygiene procedures such as laser bacterial reduction (LBR) and laser de-epitheliazation during scaling and root planing. Additionally, it’s excellent for soft-tissue surgical procedures such as frenectomy, gingivectomy, fibroma removal, and gingival retraction for crown and bridge impressions.
The most versatile laser I have is the erbium mid-infrared wavelength hard/soft-tissue laser. I use this laser several times a day for no-shot, no-drill cavity preps. My patients love being able to avoid having shots and post-op numbness. This laser gives me the ability to quickly and effectively remove decay, and often these restorations weren’t scheduled, but discovered during hygiene examinations. We can complete these procedures in one appointment and avoid the inconvenience of rescheduling the patient. With my erbium laser I can perform these procedures fast and often without anesthesia.
In addition, by lengthening the pulse duration, I also can perform many soft-tissue and bone procedures. Procedures like apicoectomy, gingivectomy, osseous recontouring and laser periodontal surgery are examples of treatments performed with the erbium laser.
Finally, lasers are now being used during endodontic treatment in the form of laser activated irrigation to greatly reduce bacteria and debris found in the canals without a net thermal elevation within the canal. Lasers also are now being used for snore reduction. The role of lasers in dentistry is continuing to increase as we see ongoing research in both lasers and their use in various applications in dentistry. The decision is no longer whether to add a laser to your practice, it’s just a matter of which laser will best fulfill your needs.
Dr. Cardoza will be speaking at the 2018 Florida Dental Convention in Orlando in June. On Thursday, June 21, “Dispelling the ‘CSI Effect’ Myth” will be at 9 a.m., and “Dentistry’s Role in the Mass Disaster Scenario, Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence Recognition,” will be at 2 p.m. later that same day. On Friday, June 22, his workshop, “21st Century Laser-assisted Dentistry” will be at 9 a.m. with a repeat of the workshop at 2 p.m. To register, go to floridadentalconvention.com.