LASER DENTISTRY

The first known evidence of dental practice dates back to 7000 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization. Dentistry then involved curing tooth disorders using bow drills by skilled specialists. Dentistry as we know today commenced in the 17th century, nearly 25 centuries after Hippocrates and Aristotle documented tooth eruption patterns, tooth decay and gingival diseases.

Since the onset of modern dentistry this field has borne witness to some of the most spectacular discoveries and innovations. From G V Black’s ‘Extension for Prevention’ to the current conservative procedures the focus of treatment has shifted from ensuring complete cure to ensuring maximum prevention of dental and para-dental diseases.

Those who thought micro-endodontics and implants were major breakthroughs were to be left astounded again. Laser was first discovered in 1917 by Einstein. It was 1964 before it was used on human tissues and early 1990’s before it was approved by the FDA. The Er:YAG laser gained an FDA approval as recently as 1997. Laser Dentistry is one of the latest applications of Laser. It is already in extensive use in the medical field. Laser offers a clean and hassle free treatment option. With the advent of separate hard and soft tissue lasers, laser dentistry has become more refined and specialised.

Hard tissue laser as the name suggests is meant for the teeth and the underlying bone. Its versatility extends up to etching, cavity cutting, root canal sterilization, bleaching and surgical procedures involving osseous tissue excision like impaction. Soft tissue laser on the other hand strictly involves gingival and periodontal procedures. It can range from scaling and curettage to LANAP. The versatility of laser is what makes it such an exciting avenue.

Dentistry has come a long way from barbers pulling out teeth to specialised doctors. The new decade ushers a new era of unprecedented change in the field of dental science. Laser Dentistry is the new standard.

Advantages

  • Lasers are quiet, precise, aseptic and pain-free.
  • Their coagulative and ablative properties make for excellent office tools.
  • The high speed of the air rotor, sharp instruments and aerosol cloud make for high cross infection rates.
  • The high speed of the air rotor, sharp instruments and aerosol cloud make for high cross infection rates. Lesser instruments mean lower contamination levels.
  • The lack of noise and sharp surgical instruments alleviate patient anxiety.
  • Laser surgeries do not require anaesthesia, post operative suture placement and diet alteration. This further enhances patient compliance.

Disadvantages

  • Lasers are highly technique sensitive. It requires special training that is not currently part of the undergraduate curriculum.
  • Lasers are high energy photons and pose a definitive risk to skin and naked eye of the dentist and the patient.
  • Higher wattage can cause the tissue to burn/ vaporise causing extensive tissue damage.
  • Lasers cannot be used to remove old metallic restorations and for crown preparations.