January 2016
Volume 37, Issue 1

Versatile WaterLase iPlus™ Laser Also Promotes Healing

As an educator and researcher for multiple companies, including dental laser manufacturer BIOLASE, Inc., Samuel B. Low, DDS, MS, MEd, observes what he considers a significant problem with technological advances in dentistry. On occasion, says Low, professor emeritus, Periodontics, University of Florida, past president, American Academy of Periodontology, and associate faculty member, Pankey Institute, dental academic institutions cannot keep the pace of these advancements and dental graduates leave with only traditional tools of the trade. Thus, he suggests, they rely on the influence of other venues, including YouTube, to gain this knowledge.

However, Low maintains that about one-third of dental practices now use a laser—mainly the soft-tissue diode laser. He suggests this significant rate of adoption of this type of laser has occurred even though the overwhelming majority of dentists continue to use traditional procedures, such as retraction cord, electrosurgery, and even blades, to assist in gaining access for restorative dentistry, including acquiring impressions. Accurate impressions can be gained by using lasers to displace gingiva, especially with digital impressioning. Inaccurate impressions can lead to recurrent decay around margins that can lead to restoration failure.

Low now uses an erbium laser (Er,Cr:YSGG) that has the ability to remove both hard and soft tissue safely and effectively. The WaterLase iPlus™ laser from BIOLASE, he says, is exceptionally versatile. “This is an all-tissue laser. Not only can it manipulate soft tissue by removing it for procedures such as biopsies and gingivectomies, it can also safely and effectively ablate tooth and bone structure.” He adds that it is also very safe around implants, which he says is important because they are now failing at a higher rate than expected due to peri-implant disease.

While Low acknowledges that administering local anesthesia is not yet a thing of the past, he points out that, for adults, the need for this uncomfortable and time-intensive practice has been greatly reduced with the laser. For treating children—ie, deciduous teeth—the anesthetic needle is almost never needed, he says, adding that this not only makes their treatment faster and easier, but it can also prevent the fear factor that causes many children to become adults who avoid the dental office.

“My reason for aligning with BIOLASE and choosing the laser I have is because it does everything a standard diode laser can do, and much faster,” Low says. It also enables him to work micro-invasively, administering laser therapy in the periodontal pocket of the patient, instead of reflecting flaps to manage widely common periodontal disease. This procedure, which he helped develop, is named REPAIR™ by BIOLASE and can effectively manage periodontitis in most cases without traditional surgery. Additionally, it can help significantly increase in patient acceptance.

This minimally invasive technology, he says, also provides a benefit that is not yet well known in dentistry: biostimulation, which promotes wound healing. Explaining this concept, Low says, “The laser is not a cutting tool; it is actually light energy. It doesn’t just remove gingival tissue through vaporization; it biostimulates the cellular content, especially the mitochondria within the cells, which are the energy manufacturers of our cells, so the turnover of tissue is exceptionally rapid, promoting regeneration.”

The BIOLASE system, he adds, makes scaling the learning curve easy. “All the steps you need to perform the procedures are on the iPlus touchscreen, and all the settings are already pre-loaded on the device. So when you’re ready to do a procedure, you touch the screen, it goes to that particular procedure, and it lists the steps. As you touch each step it changes all the settings on the laser, giving you a diagram of how to do the procedure and showing you which tip to use.”

Low reiterates his commitment to dentistry that is minimally invasive and health promoting, in keeping with new findings about the role of inflammation in overall health. He says that his own research interests dovetail nicely with those of BIOLASE, which are focused not just on the clinical effectiveness of their products.

“We also want to know about the patient experience—how much anxiety they felt, what the postoperative course was like, and the amount of pain medication taken.” Armed with this information and with the help of efficient tools like WaterLase iPlus, Low asserts, clinicians can ultimately better serve their patients.

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