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Inside Dental Technology
October 2020
Volume 11, Issue 9

Laser Focus

Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT

Even though there is very little public awareness of its benefits on both hard and soft tissues, laser dentistry has been around for several years now, deploying tangible benefits to clinical workflows. Using minimally invasive options for gum surgery, cavity treatment, or other oral issues proves these technologies are advantageous for treatment protocols and perhaps even restorative conventions. Lasers—acutely focused light beams aimed to remove small amounts of tissue, hard and/or soft—are not new to dentistry, but they have been used by our medical counterparts for some time now. This therapy modality is particularly beneficial to treat clinical patients who are very anxious and dislike the sound of a dental handpiece. Furthermore, it benefits the patients' healing process—less blood loss; less of a need for sutures, anesthesia, and sterilization; and shorter healing times.

In dentistry, there are two forms of laser treatments currently available: hard tissue and soft tissue. The hard tissue laser is used primarily for teeth and bone, since it has the wavelength suitable to cut through the calcium phosphate that is a major component of both these organic substances. These lasers cut into teeth very accurately and can remove small amounts of structure in a deliberate fashion. The soft tissue laser uses a light wavelength that is absorbed easily by hemoglobin and water. The hemoglobin found in blood makes a soft tissue laser ideal for gum work. If a patient needs extensive work, such as crown lengthening or reshaping of the gums along with implant placement and abutment preparation, lasers not only facilitate the process, they can help improve healing and contribute to an overall positive patient experience.

In dental laboratory technology, lasers have made a very small splash, but every laboratory owner and manager should have it on their radar. There are early efforts being made to bring to market a solution that utilizes the robust benefits of lasers in conjunction with CAD/CAM technologies to benefit the manufacture of dental restorations. There may be ways to manipulate 3D printing outcomes with the inclusion of lasers, potentially yielding geometric structures that harness multiple characteristics. Theoretically, lasers and their wavelengths can even change material colors and other interesting characteristics to fit our desired restorative prosthetics. This could revolutionize the way we currently fabricate dental prostheses in both fixed and removable restorative dentistry. With a bit of creativity and ingenuity, lasers can be utilized in the digital denture, esthetics, and implantology restorative spaces in ways we could never have imagined previously.

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