Friday, November 8, 2013

Laser dentistry – A Better Modality, or a Gimmick?

I recently attended a local dental society meeting and as usual, I greeted and talked to many of my colleagues.  One colleague in particular which is a good periodontist started a conversation that made me feel good.  He said that he remembered a question that I had asked him several years ago at another meeting.  The question I asked him was, what was his opinion on the use of lasers to treat periodontal disease?  At that time there were very few, (maybe one) studies from a reputable source about the use of lasers, in the treatment of periodontal pockets in a non-surgical procedure.  I had bought an expensive laser and was very interested in the potential benefits to my patients, and anticipated that they would welcome the opportunity to treat their condition with advanced technology that could avoid the need to do periodontal surgery, promote shorter healing periods and cause less discomfort than the conventional surgical modalities.  He told me, that  he did not believe that lasers could be used as an alternative to surgery and he would need to see more proper studies before  he would consider purchasing such expensive equipment.  This time he said that he now was a believer.  His group had purchased the NdYag laser and “it had changes his practice”. 
I have been using the Er,Cr,YSGG laser for many years now and have seen excellent results with different procedures.  The laser allows me to do procedures such as crown lengthening without the trauma to the tissues of laying a flap and exposing the bone.  The ability to do this as a “closed procedure” means that the patient will experience less discomfort and will heal quicker.
Similar results are obtained for other surgical procedures, such as the removal of soft tissue lesions for biopsy, gingivectomies, second stage exposure of dental implants and treatment of localized periodontal pockets in patients with periodontitis.  In the case of patients with periodontitis, this minimally invasive therapy may require more that one visit over several months and excellent oral hygiene to treat the pockets.
In summation, Laser use in dentistry has not become widespread because of the high cost of the equipment (and maintenance) and misconceptions about the technology from lack of adequate studies in the literature, but new studies are being conducted and the advantages of this modality of therapy are already evident.
West Palm Beach Dentist   Carlos Boudet, DDS, DICOI
1840 Forest Hill Blvd, Suite 204
West Palm Beach, Florida  33406
Phone: (561) 968 6022