Lasers for medicine and facial aesthetics are already a widely used and accepted treatment method in the UK, and now, we are seeing a growing community of dentists realising the potential of dental lasers.
In a recent survey held by the BDIA, diode lasers were ranked in the top three new technologies dentists were interested in. As the conversation builds around lasers for periodontal, restorative, hygiene and surgical treatments, many dentists are starting to to ask; Why should I use a laser? How does a dental laser work? And are dental lasers safe?
In a recent survey held by the BDIA, diode lasers were ranked
in the top three new technologies dentists were interested in.
We asked our Laser Specialists, Alexandra Heath-Foulds and Chris Minall, to answer some of the common questions from dentists surrounding dental lasers, and to give us an insight to how the Gemini diode laser from Ultradent in particular can increase patient comfort by reducing pain, make you stand out in the market place, and increase practice productivity.
Are lasers difficult to use?
Convenience and ease of use comes high priority for clinicians therefore most laser units feature programmed settings for each procedure. The Gemini has 19 pre-set procedures including haemostasis, cutting, hygiene, orthodontics and many more. It also has a voice confirmation after each selection to reinforce your choice of setting. The laser has pre initiated tips, meaning you don’t have to cut the fibre yourself which can be a tricky task. It is also portable and has a wireless foot pedal.
Are Lasers safe?
With the proper training, dental lasers are an easy and safe appliance to maintain and use. As with all lasers, eye protection must be worn and the Gemini laser comes with three sets of safety goggles; one for the patient, and two for the surgery staff. Many ask about the depth and range at which a laser will cut – the tip of a diode has to touch the subject in order to cut, and when it does, it will cut precisely where the tip is aimed. The Gemini is a dual wavelength laser (810nm + 980nm); giving a smoother cut with less tissue dragging and thermal damage than other diodes. The zone of necrosis (depth of tissue damaged around a cut) with diode is 15 cell layers, whereas with a scalpel, the cell layer number is 300. Because less swelling occurs with a diode laser cut, patients experience a quicker recovery time and in many cases less discomfort. The Gemini also has an aiming beam and an illuminated hand piece giving great intraoral visibility for aiming the tip precisely.
How do Lasers work?
Lasers are a concentrated beam of electro-magnetic radiation. Laser light is absorbed into chromophores, the part of the molecule which determines its colour within the body, without damaging surrounding tissues. In dentistry, diode lasers are absorbed into the reddish colours found in melanin and haemoglobin; and erbium lasers are mainly absorbed into water and hydroxyapatite - the major mineral component in bone and teeth.
Diode lasers cut soft tissues precisely with minimal trauma, destroy bacteria and can stimulate cells for quicker healing with minimal post-operative discomfort or swelling. As Erbium lasers target water, decayed hard tissue with high water content is easily destroyed whilst maintaining part of the healthy tooth. As a result, the uses for lasers in dentistry are wide ranging.
Does a laser replace the drill?
As a diode cuts soft tissue only, a drill is still needed. With a hard tissue laser, in many cases the drill can be replaced as it not only cuts cut hard tissue, but it also will effectively cut bone and composite. Patient anxiety can be reduced as the vibrations and noises usually experienced with a drill are eliminated.
Are lasers expensive?
The idea that a laser costs more than traditional methods is quickly disproved when taking into consideration the reduced surgery time with lasers - multi quadrant work can be performed in one session with a laser. As lasers cause minimal bleeding and less patient discomfort, you have the opportunity do more in one appointment than spreading over several. Lasers are popular with anxious patients and to harness this asset through effective marketing gives great potential to grow your patient base.
Are laser classifications and safety requirements complicated?
For the facts we asked Simon Wharmby, Laser safety adviser for the Optical Radiation Safety Consultancy, Lasersafe. He told us: ” In recent years, the healthcare regulations in England and Wales have become much simpler, with no additional registrations required simply for using lasers. However, as with all businesses, practices are of course required to comply with safety regulations including suitable and sufficient risk assessments.”
Are lasers slow?
Many may argue the cutting speed of a laser is slower than a scalpel, however, offset this time against how long it takes to create effective haemostasis and the healing process following any surgical procedures, and the laser comes out on top. As the Gemini is dual wavelength, it has the highest peak power of any diode laser - it cuts faster and smoother than any other diode on the market.
What are diode lasers used for?
The number of procedures that fall under diode laser dental treatment enables dentists, hygienists and dental therapists to all benefit. From general dentistry, or a more specialised interest in orthodontics, aesthetics, hygiene, implants, and minor surgical procedures, the Gemini laser is a useful tool to consider.
Here is the full list of indications approved by the FDA for the Gemini laser:
- Excisional and incisional biopsies
- Exposure of unerupted teeth
- Gingival incision and excision
- Hemostasis and coagulation
- Implant recovery
- Abscess incision and drainage
- Laser soft tissue curettage
- Oral papillectomies
- Pulpotomy as an adjunct to root canal therapy
- Reduction of gingival hypertrophy
- Sulcular debridement
- Treatment of canker sores
Why are diode lasers useful in surgery?
Diode lasers can be handy in the surgery. Here are our top reasons for owning a diode:
- Coagulation of blood is quick and easy
- Lessening of dental pain in many cases
- Reduced healing times
- Less appointments/ appointments made sooner as patient recovery time is lessened
- Less risk of tissue rebound when cutting – eg - crown lengthening
In patients with chronic periodontitis with probing depths less than or equal to 5 mm, diode lasers, scaling and root planing, plus use of the diode laser (800-980 nm) is more effective in the treatment of chronic periodontitis than when scaling and root planing is used alone*
The Gemini laser promises professional development for the clinician, optimised ROI for the dental practice, and increased patient comfort. Visit our events page to view our range of laser educational events for dentists, dental therapists and dental hygienists.
Qadri, T., Javed, F., Johannsen, G. & Gustafsson, A. (2015). Role of diode lasers (800-980 nm) as adjuncts to scaling and root planing in the treatment of chronic periodontitis: A systematic review. Photomed and laser surg.33(11),568-75. doi: 10.1089/pho.2015.3914.