From eye surgery to medical scans you’ll find laser-based treatment throughout healthcare and medicine. With supermarket barcode readers to rangefinders on the golf course, you’ll see laser technology has become a part of everyday life. That’s even true at Dr. Siegelman’s office, where we use Waterlase hard- and soft-tissue lasers to improve patient care.
What Is Laser Dentistry?
The first lasers were used in dentistry in 1994, and the technology has continued to evolve and improve. When Dr. Siegelman felt it a good fit for his patients, he added lasers to his practice.
We’ve added lasers to various traditional dental practices to improve treatment of both hard- and soft-tissue problems. When it comes to soft-tissue applications, Dr. Siegelman and Dr. Ng use the Waterlase Epic 10 diode laser. Its wavelength is absorbable by water and hemoglobin (the oxygenating protein found in blood), so it gives us the ability to precisely cut, coagulate, ablate, and vaporize targeted soft tissue. This is invaluable for procedures such as gum contouring.
We use the Waterlase Express for hard-tissue procedures, such as the removal of tooth decay, preparation of the cavity before filling, tooth preparation before applying sealants, as the activator for teeth whitening products, and other uses.
Benefits Of Laser Dentistry
Dr. Siegelman has always believed in staying at the forefront of dental technology, and incorporating lasers into his practice is in line with that philosophy. He believes the laser offers numerous advantages for our patients:
- Soft tissue work, such as gum contouring or treating and preventing gum disease.
- Lasers instantly sterilize the treatment areas.
- Wounds heal faster.
- Tissue regenerates more efficiently.
- Certain procedures don’t require anesthesia.
- Patients unnerved by the sound of a dental drill can relax.
- Damage to surrounding tissue is minimized.
- Procedures can be done more quickly.
What Are Lasers Used For At Dr. Siegelman’s?
We continue to expand our uses of our Waterlase lasers. These are areas we currently use lasers:
- Periodontal disease — Lasers are incredibly effective when working with the gums in treating and preventing periodontal disease. When cleaning periodontal pockets, the laser vaporizes infected tissue, disinfecting the area and triggering tissue re-growth at the same time. As the laser energy penetrates the gum tissue, it instantly seals blood vessels and nerve endings. This dramatically reduces bleeding and post-procedure pain, and it encourages faster healing. Here’s where we use the laser for periodontal disease:
- Root planing and scaling
- Removal of bacteria and infected tissue from periodontal pockets
- Surgical reshaping of the gums to reduce periodontal pockets
- To enhance reattachment of the gums back to the tooth root
- Gum contouring — Gum contouring with traditional methods formerly involved a fairly difficult recovery. Not so when Dr. Siegelman or Dr. Ng use our diode laser. Lasers are excellent for addressing gummy smiles, creating a more symmetrical gumline, and for preparing the gumline when readying a tooth for a crown.
- Other soft tissue uses — From exposing unerupted permanent teeth in children to frenectomies, from removing tissue from partially exposed wisdom teeth to treating canker sores and other lesions, we keep expanding our soft-tissue laser uses.
- Hard tissue uses — Some people feel nervous about the sound of a dental drill. Now we can use our lasers to remove tooth decay without needing to drill. We also use the laser to prepare the surrounding enamel for the composite resin filling of the cavity. Lasers are very effective for excavating deep pits and fissures in the molars prior to filling them with sealants. Laser energy effectively etches the tooth enamel, making it a better surface when bonding or applying sealants. We don’t always use the laser for these hard-tissue procedures, but its use continues to grow.
What are the Repair Implant and the REPAIR Perio Protocols?
When a dental implant becomes contaminated with bacteria, it is in danger of failing. This can be a result of other systemic diseases such as diabetes or osteoporosis, due to poor oral hygiene, or even from nightly tooth grinding. It’s necessary to perform what is known as debridement of the implant to remove the bacteria and let the surrounding bone and gums heal.
At Dr. Siegelman’s we now use our Waterlase Side Firing Tip for this. This is known clinically as the REPAIR Implant protocol. The laser allows us to access the subgingival infected implant threads, delivering the laser energy directed onto them. This is incredibly effective at removing over 98 percent of biofilm on the infected implant, while not damaging the titanium surface in the least. To gain access, we do not have to create a flap in the gums, as was required before we had the Waterlase laser.
For patients with periodontal infections, we use the REPAIR Perio protocol with our Waterlase laser. This involves the Radial Firing Perio Tip, which is minimally invasive, is able to gently remove calculus below the gumline, and promotes ligament re-attachment to the root surface. This involved procedure uses the Waterlase Perio Tip to create a pocket, for root scaling and planing, for removing calculus, and the other steps in the process. This sounds incredibly invasive, but thanks to the Waterlase laser it is minimally invasive and doesn’t require creating a surgical flap. This makes for faster healing and better outcomes for our patients.
What types of lasers do Dr. Siegelman and Dr. Ng use?
Dr. Siegelman has invested in Biolase lasers, both the Waterlase Express, and the Epic 10.
Waterlase Express —
This is an all-tissue laser, giving us the widest range of possible applications. The Waterlase system uses a combination of laser energy, air, and water spray. Since human teeth are partially made of water, when the laser energy contacts the tooth it excites the water molecules to cut through the tooth. This makes hard-tissue work such as the removal of decay a drill-free experience. Plus, it dramatically reduces the need for anesthetic.
Epic 10 —
The Epic 10 is one of the world’s most widely used diode lasers specifically for soft-tissue use. It provides three distinct treatment modes: surgery, pain relief, and teeth whitening.
Is laser gum treatment painful?
The idea of placing the power of laser energy into the mouth can deter some patients. They think their use might be uncomfortable. Actually, the opposite is true. Because the laser wavelengths are absorbable by water and hemoglobin, the laser energy can instantly vaporize infected gum tissue without the need for an incision. And because the energy instantly coagulates the blood vessels and seals nerve endings, there is dramatically less pain and usually don’t require sutures. This makes for far easier recovery when dealing with soft tissue procedures such as gum contouring or root planing.
Risks Of Laser Dentistry
There are procedural risks with any medical procedure. But for our uses at Dr. Siegelman’s, lasers actually lower the risk. They reduce bleeding, swelling and the risk of infection. Medical lasers instantly sterilize the soft or hard tissue they come into contact with and don’t present the same risks. Also, the accuracy of lasers makes for more precise treatments. Lasers cannot perform all procedures; however, the many benefits of lasers in dentistry continue to expand with modern technology.