Published on June 14, 2018, Updated on June 14, 2018
Did you know that lasers are commonly used in dentistry? Laser dentistry is a dentistry method that uses focused beams of laser light to reshape or remove gum tissue and debris. For dental procedures, it reduces the need or occurrence of sutures, anesthesia, bleeding, pain and more. This dentistry option is available for both children and adults, and even for infants. Find out what if it is used the same way for people of different ages!
In the past, dentists were trained to primarily use shots, drills and motorized tools to remove gum tissues, tooth enamel and more. Using drills in dentistry often requires the use of anesthetic shots to numb the pain and discomfort a patient feels. However, about 10% of patients (including adults) skip seeing the dentist altogether because they can’t get over their fear of shots, drills and the tools used in dental procedures.
Although the old methods of dentistry are definitely effective, there are better, more innovative ways to do the same procedures using different tools. Laser dentistry is starting to become a popular practice for many dentists, some of which only rely on laser light to perform dental procedures. Our office is one of those that sees the benefit in using laser light compared to other tools that patients often don’t like.
Laser dentistry isn’t like lasers you might see in films such as Star Wars, but laser dentistry does use tools with focused, intense beams of light. However, that light is on a much smaller scale. Starting in 1990, dentistry picked up the use of laser light to correct abnormalities and problems with the teeth and gums. Laser light is a focused beam of light and heat particles that can cut, shape, melt and more. Their use takes away the need to have shots and drills in dentistry.
The dental laser is known as a “diode laser” and looks like a handheld wand that produces a small light at one end. This is the laser part. Dental lasers have certain reactions with water on contact. Laser light “ablates” water molecules, or melts them away. Professionals that work with ice and snow use tools that melt away snow, and laser light in dentistry is much the same. Your gums and even your teeth contain various percentages of water. When the laser light hits these tissues, it can melt away areas in its path. That’s how the laser light can reshape gum tissue or take away areas of tooth enamel that need to be removed for a cavity filling.
You might think lasers would hurt your mouth, but they don’t! In fact, most patients don’t feel pain at all, making this dental option a great one for children. As the laser light melts away areas, patients generally don’t feel much at all, except for some warmth. With gum tissue, laser light immediately seals as it removes tissue, which means that patients often don’t bleed. Because of this, we use laser dentistry for our pediatric patients in-office. Advantages include:
We can treat our patients without injections in 99% of cases, making laser dentistry the best option for children. Young patients don’t have the fear of shots and drills when a laser is used, and won’t fear the dentist because their experience is better and more comfortable. We use lasers cavity and gum procedures with children. This is also our go-to option to perform infant frenectomies, which is the removal of tongue and lip ties in infants. For tiny babies, laser dentistry can remove the problem without the pain, bleeding, cutting and more that an infant has with past methods.
Per FDA requirement, all dentists practicing laser dentistry receive specific and proper training to use dental laser devices. However, even though that training is the same, it is also based off of the dentist’s specific training, experience and scope of practice. Cosmetic dentistry using lasers will be different than what a dentist does if they only do pediatric or family dentistry.
Pediatric patients especially love laser dentistry because it makes the dentist not seem scary at all! They don’t have to worry about shots, drills or procedures that will hurt. At our particular practice, we make sure to explain everything to children before they get their procedure. We take time with them to be introduced to the dental laser so they can see how easy it is to get a cavity filled or their teeth cleaned. If you have a child, let them try laser dentistry at their next appointment! It can change their entire dental experience.
Overall, pediatric patients generally have the same experience as adult patients when it comes to laser dentistry. Some differences may be present, but it all depends on the dentist, their training and the services they provide with a laser. However, patients all over the nation are shifting more and more to dental procedures using lasers because of its benefits. If you have phobias of getting dental procedures done, give laser dentistry a try! For children, it’s a wonderful way to treat cavities and gum problems without making them nervous. To learn more about our training with laser dentistry, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today at (720) 887-6003!