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Beam Me Up: Lasers in Dentistry

Your next dental appointment may require sunglasses. No, you’re not going to the beach—your dentist is using a laser. A laser produces a very strong beam of light that causes a reaction when it comes into contact with human tissue. Lasers can cut, remove, and reshape oral tissue.

Dentists use different types of lasers for different types of dental procedures. For instance, they may use one kind of instrument to perform surgery and another to assist with whitening procedures. Here are some other ways in which dentists use lasers:

  • Uncovering wisdom teeth that only come out part of the way.

  • Removing decay from cavities to prepare the teeth for fillings.

  • Reducing the amount of bacteria that grows around your teeth when you have gum disease.

Although only a small number of dentists currently use this relatively new technology, it is becoming more mainstream. When used by a trained practitioner, lasers, like other dental instruments, are completely safe and actually have several advantages over traditional methods. For instance, you may not need anesthesia with laser treatment because some types of laser procedures are completely painless. There is often much less bleeding with lasers because they cause small blood vessels to clot immediately. In addition, procedures can be more precise when using a laser.

A laser is not appropriate for every dental procedure, so ask your dentist if it is an option for you. And if laser treatment is recommended, your dentist will supply the shades.

“Current Status of Clinical Laser Applications in Periodontal Therapy.” A. Aoki et al. General Dentistry. Vol 56, No. 7, pp. 674-87. November-December 2008. http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Current+Status+of+Clinical+Laser+Applications+in+Periodontal+Therapy&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=JRXiUcXWMuOJjALih4DwDg&ved=0CEUQgQMwAA. Accessed 2013.

“What is Laser Dentistry.” Academy of General Dentistry. January 2012. http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=L&iid=780&aid=3803. Accessed 2013.

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