We have been using dental lasers at Wayside Dental Practice in Harpenden for over 20 years in all aspects of dentistry; for fillings, in place of a scalpel, for gum treatments and endodontics. We use them as they are minimally invasive, help preserve tissue and bone, are anti-bacterial and promote healing. They make dentistry easier for us and better for you, so win, win! Lasers are of course used in many other treatments outside of dentistry- for eye surgery, dermatology, in physiotherapy and in general surgery when the surgeon need to use a high degree of precision- of course dentists always need to use a high degree of precision as the area we work in is very small!
When we first invested in lasers, we knew laser light had therapeutic qualities in that they promote healing, reduce inflammation, and encourage tissue regeneration. At that time, the research as to why lasers had this effect was there, but not extensive. All laser light has this effect, but some wavelengths more than others and now extensive research is being done on which wavelengths are most beneficial for different uses.
We certainly noticed the beneficial effect of laser use as mostly following invasive surgery our patients reported minimal pain and swelling and we noticed faster healing. We also found that the laser promoted tissue regrowth and particularly bone regrowth in areas where bone had been lost due to gum disease or infection.
There has now been so much research worldwide into why lasers have this healing effect that it has been named photobiomodulation. It is recognised that laser light promotes healing and has other therapeutic uses.
For example, laser use is approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to prevent mouth ulcers in patients undergoing cancer treatment. A particular wavelength of laser light is used on the mouth before each dose of chemotherapy. If mouth ulcers can be prevented, it is much more likely that the patient will be able to complete their treatment (because they will still be able to eat) and of course avoid a lot of pain. In the USA, therapeutic laser use is required for all patients undergoing cancer treatment. In Australia, it is now required for all children having cancer treatment.
When our cells are damaged, more nitric oxide is produced. This blocks the cells from receiving oxygen and the cells become even more stressed. If the correct wavelength of light is applied to the area, this light is absorbed by the battery packs of our cells (the mitochondria) and this allows the cells to displace the nitric oxide, become oxygenated and produce ATP which is needed for repair and healing.
Research on the biological effect of lasers on cells is continuing and Robin is currently assisting in a trial of an LED light source on jaw pain and to use this light on acupuncture points in place of an acupuncture needle for pain relief.
At Wayside we now have four Waterlase lasers and five diode lasers. All our clinicians are trained in laser dentistry, and they are used in many of our treatments. To find out more, send us an email or visit our website!