Could lasers help treat dental issues you’ve been avoiding?
What if filling a cavity or having a root canal was less painful? What if you never had to listen to the whine of a dentist’s drill again? With dental laser technology, it might be possible.
Dental lasers? Really?
Yes! Dentists have been using lasers for more than a decade. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of dental lasers to help treat a number of dental health concerns, including these:
- Tooth decay. Say goodbye to the drill! Dentists can remove tooth decay with a laser, possibly avoiding the need for local anesthetic and saving more of the healthy parts of the tooth than with traditional methods. Laser techniques may also help create a stronger bond between the tooth and the filling. And some lasers may even help dentists detect cavities sooner than ever before.
- Gum disease, sensitivity. Dentists can use lasers to reshape diseased gums, to seal the root tubules influencing tooth sensitivity and to remove bacteria during root canals.
- Biopsy, tumors, cold sores. Lasers can provide a less painful way for dentists to take tissue biopsies and remove tumors — and may mean you don’t need stitches. They can also help alleviate the pain of canker sores and speed up healing.
- Teeth whitening. By using heat to activate the bleaching solution, dental lasers can make your teeth whiter faster.
What you need to know
Lasers present several advantages compared to some traditional dental treatments. They may cause less pain, reducing anesthesia requirements. They may cause less damage to soft tissues, reducing bleeding and inflammation, and possibly eliminating the need for stitches. And, since the laser’s high energy has a sterilizing affect, it may also help reduce the risk of bacterial infection.
On the other hand, dental lasers won’t always eliminate the need for anesthesia, stitches, drills or other traditional treatment techniques. And they can’t be used for everything — including on cavities between teeth, on teeth with existing fillings, to remove old crowns or fillings, or to prepare teeth for new crowns or bridges. And laser treatment may cost more than traditional methods.
It’s also worth noting that, while the American Dental Association (ADA) says it’s "cautiously optimistic" about laser dentistry, it hasn’t yet given any dental lasers its Seal of Acceptance.
Your best resource
To learn more about laser dentistry and when it might be appropriate to address your dental health issues, talk with your dentist. You can also locate a laser dentist nearby who accepts your CareCredit credit card with our online search engine.
“Laser Use in Dentistry,” WebMD, reviewed by Michael Friedman, DDS, Nov. 29, 2015, http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/laser-use-dentistry?page=2, accessed Feb. 2, 2016
“Laser Dentistry: Enhancing Dental Treatment With Lasers,” by Lesley Ranft, reviewed by Donald Patthoff, DDS, Consumer Guide to Dentistry®, http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/laser/, accessed Feb. 2, 2016
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