Posts for tag: laser dentistry
While lasers still seem like science fiction, they’ve been used commercially (and medically) for decades. But there’s still room for growth in practical applications with this developing technology. One promising area is in the treatment of periodontal (gum) disease.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection triggered by plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles caused by inadequate oral hygiene. The disease is highly destructive and can eventually lead to both tooth and bone loss. Treatment procedures vary widely, but they all have the same goal: remove the offending plaque and calculus (tartar) from tooth and gum surfaces. Without plaque the infection subsides and the gums can heal.
For decades now, dentists have removed plaque and calculus manually with special hand instruments or ultrasonic equipment. If the disease has advanced below the gum line or formed deep voids filled with infection called periodontal pockets, the dentist may also employ surgical techniques to access the infected areas.
While all these techniques have a long track record for effectiveness, they can cause the inadvertent destruction of healthy tissue, as well as create discomfort for some patients afterward. This is where a new protocol called Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP®) may be able to make a difference in the future.
With the LANAP® protocol, surgeons direct a laser beam of light through a fiber optic the width of three human hairs onto diseased tissue. The particular color of light interacts with the tissue, which contains the darkly-pigmented bacteria causing the disease, and “vaporizes” it. The beam, however, passes harmlessly through lighter-pigmented healthy tissue; as a result diseased tissue is eradicated with little to no harm to adjacent healthy tissue.
With these capabilities, trained dentists using LANAP® for gum disease treatment might be able to achieve conventional results with less tissue removal and bleeding, less discomfort for patients, and less tissue shrinkage than traditional procedures — and without scalpels or sutures. And some post-surgical studies have indicated LANAP® might also encourage gum tissue regeneration in the months following.
LANAP®, however, is still developing and requires further research. Thus far, though, the results have been encouraging. As laser technology advances, it’s quite possible tomorrow’s patient may experience less discomfort and more effective healing with their gum disease treatment.
If you would like more information on gum disease treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Gum Disease with Lasers.”
While lasers have been effective (and safe) tools for healthcare professionals in the medical field for years, did you know that they are fast becoming a vital tool in the field of dentistry for diagnosing dental disease? Lasers, named from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,” are beams of light that are of a single color and wavelength. They also have the unique ability to help dental professionals detect disease in much earlier stages than they have ever before.
Diagnostic lasers are very effective in diagnosing pit and fissure decay — the tiny grooves of the biting surfaces that cannot be seen by visual inspection or reached by a traditional dental tool. They are able to accomplish this by producing a glowing effect known as fluorescence, which is produced by the optical properties of early tooth decay. This enables us to treat tooth decay in its earliest stages as well as monitor teeth from visit to visit.
Another area where lasers have proven valuable is in the detection and localization of dental calculus (tartar) beneath the gums. Calculus is hardened or calcified bacterial plaque that attaches to the teeth. Using lasers, we can find and remove this calculus during periodontal (gum) therapy. Lasers are also helpful in detecting dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. And should we find any of these conditions, lasers are extremely useful in removing tissue close to the margins or edges of where diseased tissue meets healthy tissue. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery.