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Inside Dentistry
July 2024
Volume 20, Issue 7

Providing Minimally Invasive Treatment With Laser Dentistry

The BIOLASE Waterlase iPlus Premier Edition™ reduces postoperative sensitivity and improves healing times

Howard Golan, DDS, JD, began to doubt that he had made the right career choice after his first few years of practicing dentistry. Golan's father was also a dentist, so his first move after dental school had been to join his father's practice in Williston Park, New York. But Golan soon realized that the practice's traditional approach to dentistry-one that was high volume, relied on dental insurance, and tended to be more invasive-was not what he wanted to be doing. In fact, he was so unsure of his future that he decided to go to law school in an attempt to try something different. "My dad saw dental insurance coming back in the 1980s, and he really embraced it," Golan says. "He felt that it would take over the industry and that he could make a good living doing that type of dentistry, which he did. But I struggled for the first 4 or 5 years working with him because it didn't always sit well with me. I saw that traditional dentistry concepts, though effective, were not always ideal for the patients or their teeth. There was a lot of invasive cutting, postoperative sensitivity, and discomfort, and I felt that the patients didn't have a good feel for what dentists could really do and that, as a result, a lot of them shied away."

However, a couple of years later, Golan's course began to change again when he started to find mentors who introduced him to philosophies and techniques that excited him and inspired him to change his approach. "I gained more confidence in how I wanted to practice dentistry," he says. "I was able to move beyond just knowing what I did not want to do and bring what I was learning into the practice and push for us to offer a more biologic approach that took patients' entire mouths and bodies into consideration. Sometimes, it was a struggle because my father didn't always get what I was doing or agree with it, but he has always been excited by new technology, so once I was able to convince him of the return on investment, he gave me a lot of leeway to try new things, attend lectures, and develop my own philosophy."

Now, Golan Family Dentistry includes Golan; his father, Marshall Golan, DDS; an endodontist, Jeff Etess, DMD; and two hygienists. It is is what Golan calls "a small practice with big practice technology." They offer general dentistry that is minimally invasive and biomimetic and keep as many procedures in-house as possible. One of the first big investments in technology that Golan made was the Waterlase® dental laser from BIOLASE. The Waterlase is an all-tissue dental laser system with a proprietary Er,Cr:YSGG 2780 nm wavelength that provides optimal absorption in both water and hydroxyapatite for cool and efficient cutting of both hard and soft tissues. Its use of water facilitates the delivery of more minimally invasive procedures by reducing heat damage and thus improving healing time and decreasing postoperative sensitivity. "My goal is to offer minimally invasive dentistry in a more biologic way that does not go against what patients' bodies want," says Golan. "The patient's body doesn't want a rise in temperature, it doesn't want inflammation, and it doesn't want infection.

Golan has been using the Waterlase for 20 years now as an adjunct and enhancement to his armamentarium of scalpels and drills. Although the laser cannot replace certain tools, there are some procedures that have become "laser only" procedures in his office due to the advantages that the Waterlase provides. "We are now able to remove old ceramic crowns without having to cut them off or damage them, and we can do the same with veneers," he says. "As any dentist knows, over time, crowns can debond or fracture. In our practice, I work on a lot of posterior single tooth restorations, taking out old amalgam, fixing cracks, and fixing existing fillings or crowns, so it is great to be able to save a crown and send it to the laboratory to fix without requiring the patient to invest more money in a complete remake.
I also use the Waterlase for periodontic treatments, which makes them more patient-friendly, and to manipulate implants and their surrounding tissues." Golan notes that the fact that the Waterlase can perform many procedures without the need for anesthesia improves the experiences of his patients and the efficiency of his practice. Oftentimes, he is able to do work in multiple quadrants during one visit because he doesn't have to worry about numbing different parts of the patient's mouth.

BIOLASE's most recent update of the Waterlase, the Waterlase iPlus Premier Edition, maintains the same industry-leading laser technology while offering improved features in its modular software design and training materials. The new software allows clinicians to cost-effectively custom tailor the capabilities of the Waterlase iPlus to focus on the applications that are most important to their practices, and technique animations are offered as training materials to help elevate practitioners' skills and reduce the learning curve on new procedures to ensure predictable results.

As an early adopter of the Waterlase, Golan has lectured and provided training to other dentists in addition to expanding his own skills. He claims that the biggest factor in determining dentists' success is how committed they are to integrating the laser into their workflows and using it to its fullest potential. "When you bring in a new technology, you have to consider how it will fit into your everyday workflow," Golan says. "That being said, the learning curve is actually not as overwhelming as some make it out to be. The most important thing is to be patient. It can be intimidating to integrate the technology into your practice because you have to do your due diligence, but if you are willing to commit and grow with it, it really pays off, and BIOLASE provides everything that you need to continue to grow."

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