Since the debut of the first working laser in 1960, laser technology has become an integral part of many widely used products and services that affect our daily lives. Today’s medical professionals use lasers to perform a variety of treatments and procedures in internal surgery, dermatology, ophthalmology, and dentistry.
See the Light
Laser is actually an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Unlike sunlight, which is made up of a continuum of wavelengths, lasers generate just one ultra-focused beam of light. This is why sunlight separates into rainbow colors when passed through a prism while laser light is only a single color.
Medical Laser Devices
Medical laser devices consist of the following components: a source of electricity, mirrors to guide the beam, some type of semiconductor that emits specific light wavelengths when stimulated, and fiber optics that transport light energy. By harnessing this light-producing material and manipulating its wavelength properties, medical laser devices can treat or remove human tissue in various diagnostics and surgical procedures.
Laser Usage in Dental Treatments
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted initial marketing clearance for soft tissue surgery in 1991. Since then, lasers have become an integral part of many common dental procedures. Dental laser usage generally falls into one of the following three categories:
1. Disease Diagnosis
2. Soft Tissue Procedures – Used in treatments related to lips, gums, or the tongue
3. Hard Tissue Procedures – Used in treatments related to bone, dentin, or enamel
As science and technology grows more advanced, laser dentistry continues to evolve and expand into new areas of dentistry. Recent authorizations for lasers in dental treatments include bone re-contouring in the jaws and teeth as well as disease detection in tissues.
Lasers and Gum Disease – A Vanishing Act
With the Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP®), doctors can literally vaporize the bacteria and infected tissue that accompanies moderate to severe periodontal disease using the PerioLase® MVP-7™. In a single visit, LANAP® can completely vanquish gum disease without using a scalpel or damaging healthy tissue. The laser’s wavelength allows for an unprecedented level of selectivity when vaporizing and cutting tissue. Prior to LANAP®, eradicating gum disease required invasive surgery where dentists cut into the gums to remove the infection. Laser technology has completely revolutionized the landscape, enabling dentists to offer patients a minimally invasive, highly effective alternative to gum disease treatment for the first time.