Dentists, like all other specialists in the medical profession, are constantly looking for new and better ways of treating their patients. Medical research facilities constantly come up with new equipment and materials and, as a result, the pharmaceutical companies continually update their products. The result is that new and proven products are being introduced into doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries on a regular basis.

One of the pieces of equipment that has been around for many years, which was developed for varying treatments in the medical and dental world, is the laser. The word laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation and these lasers work with a concentrated light beam. This instrument has been honed and perfected over a period of more than 50 years and is now routinely used in ophthalmic (eye) surgery such as reshaping the cornea; dermatological (skin) and plastic surgery procedures, such as the removal of certain lesions and even tattoos; in neurological (brain) surgery and gynecologic procedures, among a host of other applications.

Dentists took note of the benefits of laser technology, because of its precision cutting properties which lessen any damage which may be caused to surrounding tissue; the reduction in bleeding, bruising and swelling; and much faster treatment and healing times. The net outcome is that the laser is now a commonly used instrument which most dentists who keep up to date on developments in their field now use routinely.

The most modern lasers can, in some cases, replace the drill to remove dental caries (or tooth decay). Not only is it silent, thus eliminating the dreaded whine we all associate with dentists, but it does not need the tooth to be anesthetized, meaning no more painful injections. The laser is also more precise than the drill, thus less of the healthy tooth around the caries is removed.

Periodontists, or gum specialists, use lasers to cut away badly infected gum tissue when treating gum diseases. As the laser cauterizes as it cuts, there is minimal bleeding and the periodontal surgeon can see the area being treated much more clearly, thereby being able to cut away only the infected areas without any of the healthy gum tissue. Healing and recovery from this procedure is also much faster and less painful. This same procedure is used in cosmetic dentistry to remove or raise the excess gum tissue which mars some people’s smiles. In order to remove the build up of plaque which leads to, and aggravates, periodontal diseases, a special low power carbon laser is used to do what is known as a deep cleaning, to remove all traces of plaque from both the teeth and the gums.

Cosmetic dentists use lasers in the tooth whitening procedure, where a solution of hydrogen peroxide is applied to the teeth, followed by the use of a laser beam to activate and speed up the effects. This treatment is totally painless and results in one’s teeth being a few shades lighter.

Finally, maxillo-oral-facial surgeons use the laser to take biopsy specimens and to remove small lesions within the oral cavity.