Photo Credit: Fotona LightWalker® dental laser
The Consumer’s Guide To Laser Dentistry
How Laser Dentistry Can Improve Dental Care, Reduce The Need For Drills & Improve Outcomes On Dental Procedures
By David Rodrick, DDS – Centennial, Colorado
Welcome to this laser dentistry consumer guide. Laser dentistry is changing the face of dental treatment by making treating dental disease easier, faster, safer, more comfortable, and more patient-friendly than ever before with the use of high-tech lasers. Laser have been used in dentistry for more than 20 years, and are able to treat almost every type of dental problems that a clinician may face in the dental practice.
What Is Laser Dentistry?
Laser dentistry involves using lasers in place of, or as a complement, to traditional dental instruments such as drills, steel picks, buffers, and more. Dental lasers produce a beam of powerful light energy. Dental lasers are used in a wide variety of dental procedures.
Laser dentistry patients wear protective glasses while the dental laser is in use.
How Are Lasers Used In Dentistry?
Dental lasers are used in a wide variety of dental care and gum treatments, and solve quite a number of typical dental problems. Here’s a quick look at how lasers are used in dentistry:
Laser dentistry is 90+% effective in diagnosing cavities; using a steel dental pick is only 30% effective.
- Dental Lasers Can Better Identify Cavities & Tooth Decay: Low-level lasers (lower energy than soft tissue lasers) are used for diagnosing decay. The laser light shines into the tooth and causes any decay that is present to “fluoresce.” The machine reads how much fluorescence there is, and how much decay is present by showing number levels. While most traditional methods of using a sharp dental instrument to diagnose cavities are only 30 percent effective, the cavity diagnosis lasers are approximately 99 percent accurate.
- Dental Lasers Can Remove Old White Fillings: Dental lasers can be used to remove old white fillings, often with no need for anesthesia. Sometimes dental lasers are used in conjunction with a dental drill, with the drill doing the heavy lifting (drilling) and the laser finishing the job of removing the filling.
- Dental Lasers Can Eliminate Tooth Decay: Small- and medium-size cavities can be removed using a dental laser, with little or no discomfort, pain, or anesthesia. In addition, while the laser light energy removes the tooth structure that’s decayed (without using a dental drill), the tooth is temporarily numbed after a couple of minutes, making the procedure easier for the dentist and for the patient. The intensity and focus of the laser can be controlled by the dentist until the patient does not feel any discomfort.
- Dental Lasers Can Sterilize A Tooth: The dental laser’s ability to sterilize a treated area on a tooth is critically important because this provides a clean tooth surface to bond the new composite resin (white filling). Besides, unlike conventional drilling, the laser leaves a very clean surface that is free of debris allowing the new filling to bond more efficiently making the tooth structurally stronger and more resistant to future cracking or leaking.
- Dental Lasers Can Be Used For Non-surgical Gum Treatments: The soft tissue laser removes diseased gum tissue by energizing the treated are with the beam of light. The laser affects the diseased tissue, leaving the healthy part alone. Ninety eight percent of the bacteria that causes the gum infection is eliminated when dental lasers are used. In contrast, traditional procedures still used by numerous dentists and periodontists in the USA and around the world require knife cutting or wire heat to eliminate the infected gum tissue. This traditional approach to treating gum disease causes a lot of pain, bleeding, and the gums takes several days or weeks to heal. Unlike those unpleasant methods, the laser does not require the use of sutures or anesthesia. Moreover, the procedure is fast, virtually painless, and gums heal within two to three days.
- Dental Lasers Can Be Used For Teeth Whitening: Teeth whitening (bleaching) can be performed with the soft tissue laser. After applying a protective coating over the patient’s gum, and curing it with a light, the laser energy is then applied over the teeth for 45 minutes to an hour session to bleach the teeth to a lighter shade with very little discomfort to the patient. Take-home bleaching trays are usually fabricated for the patient so they can bleach their teeth at home to keep the teeth from getting darker over time. The laser treatment is faster and more intense than the home bleaching technique, but both used together are very effective.
- Dental Lasers Can Reduce Tooth Sensitivity: Sensitivity around the gum line frequently occurs on people’s mouth. Low-level laser energy is applied to the affected area. The laser energy seals the surface of the tissue that causes the tooth sensitivity.
- Dental Lasers Can Be Used For Non-surgical Frenectomy (muscle attachment removal): In some cases, patients (especially children) are tongue tied (the tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth so its movement is reduced). In other cases, they have too tight of a muscle attachment between the two front teeth which pulls the gum tissue away from the teeth causing root exposures. There is a laser technique called “Frenectomy” that smoothly cuts the extra tissue with the laser and water energy. The blood on the area is coagulated so there is little or no bleeding or pain. Furthermore, it can often be done without anesthesia, and the healing process takes only approximately two to three days.
- Dental Lasers Can Treat Cold Sores: Also known as fever blisters or herpes labialis, core sores are caused by a virus called HSV-1 that causes fever blisters. The laser heat kills the virus by heating the affected tissue in and around the lesion. The procedure takes approximately 5 minutes and the patient experiences almost immediate results.
- Dental Lasers Can Improve a “Gummy” Smile: Laser “gummy” treatments are done when a patient has excessive amounts of gum tissue covering up healthy upper front teeth. The laser removes the excess tissue and uncovers the healthy teeth allowing them to be seen. The results are fast and can dramatically improve a person’s smile and the appearance of their teeth.
- Dental Lasers Can Be Used For Biostimulation: Also called “laser light therapy,” biostimulation is a technique that uses the laser light to help blood vessels and scars around the mouth heal. This technique can also relieve sore muscles in the mouth after dental treatment.
- Dental Lasers Can Be Used For Crown & Veneer Removal: Dental lasers can be used to remove existing porcelain or cubic zirconia crowns and veneers without cutting them off so they can be reused. The laser energy (a blend of laser light and water) penetrates through the crown and degrades the cement that holds it until it comes off undamaged, and in one piece. Crown removal is a helpful method for performing root canals with existing crowns. The laser dentist can remove the crown before drilling on the actual tooth structure and re-cement it after the treatment, so a new crown does not have to be made.
- Dental Lasers Can Be Used For Crown Lengthening: This technique is done to improve a short crown preparation or a short tooth. The laser energy is focused around the root of the tooth and a small layer of bone is removed around the neck of the tooth. This provides more room for making a better crown with more retention or to gain access to a deep cavity below the gum line.
What Types of Lasers Are Used In Laser Dentistry?
Different types of dental lasers have been designed to treat different dental conditions. There are two main types of modern lasers: hard tissue and soft tissue lasers.
- Hard Tissue Lasers: Among many others procedures, the hard tissue laser is used for cutting tooth enamel and bone primarily. The laser works by putting out light energy and water that acts as a cutting device. Some of its main uses are: removing tooth structure on old-white fillings, sterilizing the treated area after the cavity is removed, and preparing the area for better bonding.
- Soft Tissue Lasers: On the other hand, the soft tissue laser is used for treating soft tissue areas, such as gums, by delivering a light beam that vaporizes the tissue it contacts. One of the most common procedures treated with it is periodontitis (gum disease). The laser light removes the diseased tissue and kills 98 percent of the bacteria that causes the infection.
Laser dentistry is ideal for fearful patients who don’t like drills & injections.
What Are The Benefits of Laser Dentistry?
- Reduces the need for dental drills: Lasers often can be used in place of a traditional dental drill. For “scare-dy cats” who are afraid to go to the dentist, the piercing sound of the dental drill contributes to their fear and discomfort. With dental lasers, there’s not much noise and it’s soft tap-tap-tap sound.
- More accurate cavity diagnosis: By passing a specific frequency of laser light over teeth, the laser dentist can see where the tooth is decaying much more accurately than traditional methods of finding cavities (using a steel pick).
- Better sterilization of the tooth before fillings or crowns: This makes the filling adhere better to the tooth, which improves the structural strength of the tooth.
- Faster tissue generation and healing: After laser treatments, the area of the patient’s mouth treated with a laser typically heals within a day.
- More natural structure of the tooth is preserved: The laser only removes the area affected, leaving more natural tooth structure than conventional drills.
- Reduces the need for surgery: Laser gum treatments, in particular, eliminate the need for painful and expensive gum surgeries to address gum disease and receding gums.
- Reduced need for anesthesia: In many cases, especially on small or medium-size cavities, the laser does its job without the need of anesthesia. The laser itself numbs the tooth after a couple of seconds.
- Reduced bleeding and swelling during and after treatment: Due to its gentle cutting with the water energy and light, the laser performs different soft tissue (gum) procedures reducing bleeding and swelling afterwards.
- Increases patient acceptance of dental treatment: Patients find laser work much more comfortable, tolerable, painless and easy to handle than regular dental procedures.
- Provides relief for tooth sensitivity: Dental lasers are an effective way to treat tooth sensitivity.
- Provides relief for cold sores: When you apply a dental laser to unsightly cold sores, relief and healing occurs very fast.
Are Dental Lasers Safe?
Dental lasers are safe and effective, and have been used for more than 20 years. Since dental lasers dispense an intense beam of light, patients wear special sunglasses when dental lasers are being applied.
What Does Laser Dentistry Cost?
In most cases, laser dentistry doesn’t cost any more than traditional dentistry (although laser dentistry offers significant benefits over traditional dentistry).
What’s It Like To Get Laser Dentistry?
Most patients say that they feel little or no pain at all. Other express that they feel cold on the tooth when it gets hit with the water spray. When removing large old-fillings, some patients may feel sensitivity when the cavity is being removed. Patients find laser treatment more tolerable, pleasant, and more desirable than conventional drill. The sound of the laser is a low-vibration “pop, pop, pop” sound that is much more pleasant than a typical dentist’s drill.
Laser dentistry is effective and safe for all ages, and results in healthy teeth and gums, and beautiful smiles.
How Do I Choose A Laser Dentist?
There are many ways to find a quality laser dentist.
1) Ask friends, neighbors, and family about a qualified dentist who performs laser dentistry in your area.
2) Google Laser Dentists plus the city in which you live. Example: “ Laser Dentist Centennial Colorado.”
3) Research the dentists you find and investigate the dentist’s experience, credentials, and training in laser dentistry.
4) Contact the dental office and ask to come over, meet the laser dentist, and do a consult on how laser dentistry can solve your dental problems.
Laser Dentistry Consumer Guide Summary
Laser dentistry offers significant advantages in place of traditional dentistry, or as a complement to traditional dentistry. Using laser light emanating from dental lasers, a trained laser dentist can perform many different general and specialized dentistry treatments – and with better, long-term results. When considering where to get dental care, it’s wise to consider modern laser dentistry as an alternative, or a complement to, traditional dentistry.
Dr. David Rodrick is an expert general & laser dentist in Centennial, Colorado.
About The Author: Dr. David Rodrick, Expert Laser Dentist
Dr. David Rodrick has 30 years of experience as a dentist, and has been offering laser dentistry for 12+ years. He has a passion for making patients relax, and helping solve their dental problems using effective, comfortable laser dentistry equipment and techniques. Dr. Rodrick offers:
- General dentistry services
- Laser dentistry services
- Root canals
- Non-surgical Laser Gum Treatments
- Cosmetic dentistry & implants
- Teeth whitening
- Non-surgical Laser snoring treatments…and more.
Dr. Rodrick is both an expert general dentist, and is one of the leading laser dentists along Colorado’s Front Range. He was one of the first dentists to offer laser dentistry in Colorado. He earned an Associate Fellowship in Laser Dentistry by the World Laser Clinical Institute, and he also has completed extensive continuing education using “Fotona” dental lasers. In addition to his 30 years of experience in dentistry, Dr. Rodrick has completed close to 300 hours of continuing education in laser dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, laser endodontics (root canal therapy) and dental implants. He is a member of, and also has earned an associate fellowship in ASIRD (American Society of Implant and Reconstructive Dentistry). In 2005, he received an award from Nobel Biocare for excellence in dental esthetics. In 2015, he was the first dentist in the state of Colorado to learn and perform a non-surgical laser snoring treatment known as NightLase™.
Dr. Rodrick was born and raised in northern Illinois. In 1977, he moved to Denver and attended the University of Colorado at Denver — graduating in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He then attended the University of Colorado School of Dentistry and graduated as a general dentist in 1984. In 1985, he opened a solo practice in Englewood, Colorado. Dr. Rodrick has a passion for laser dentistry for many reasons:
“I am passionate about laser dentistry for so many reasons. First, laser dentistry truly offers the best quality of dental treatment available, with the least possible amount of discomfort for my patients. Second, by offering laser dentistry that’s more comfortable and effective, it keeps my patients coming back regularly to care for and maintain their teeth,” he said.
For information on Laser Dentistry in Denver, Centennial, Colorado, please contact the dental practice of Expert General & Laser Dentist, David L. Rodrick, DDS, at 303.793.0793, or visit www.DrRodrickDDS.com.