The word "laser" is an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Laser treatment is a dentistry practice used for teeth whitening, reshaping gum tissue and treating gum disease. Laser treatment also allows for deep, thorough cleaning of gums and teeth. Different lasers are used to accomplish different tasks. A low-powered carbon laser is the type used for cleaning gums and teeth.
Laser dental treatment was invented in 1960, and was used for procedures on soft tissue (i.e. gums) only. The practice of laser treatment on both soft and hard tissue was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1996. Improvements to laser treatment caused bleeding to be minimized and reduced the need for anesthesia and stitches.
How it Works
A low-powered carbon laser is used for deep cleaning because it doesn't puncture soft tissue, so it can be used for cleaning the gum surface. Despite your daily brushing and flossing, plaque still tends to build up slowly between your teeth and where the teeth and gums meet. The low-powered carbon laser gently cuts away at this buildup. Its heat also kills bacteria. After laser treatment, the dentist uses a water pick to to clear plaque that has been loosened or cut away but is still in your mouth.
According to WebMD, laser treatment is less painful than a traditional cleaning that uses sharp metal tools. Laser cleaning is faster, according to World Dental. A laser's narrowly-focused beam allows for more complex cleaning, since it is more precise than traditional dentistry tools. For example, teeth surrounded by gums infected with gum disease can be cleaned without harming the gums. The dentist can also spot a cavity sooner because the laser allows her to see any decay byproducts. Laser treatment can lessen a patient's anxiety because her mouth will not be touched by sharp metal tools.
The Consumer Guide to Dentistry estimated in March 2009 that only six percent of American dentists own a laser. A major reason for the limitation is that laser equipment is more expensive than traditional equipment. Moreover, laser treatment for deep cleaning is still relatively new, therefore it will take time for more dentists to be trained how to use the equipment. Unfortunately, some insurance companies might not cover laser treatment for cleaning. You cannot have your teeth cleaned using laser treatment if you have a filling.
- Teeth and Mouth image by Sujit Mahapatra from Fotolia.com