Laser Assisted Dentistry

Drs. Davis and Matthews are proud to offer their patients the latest in dental laser technologies. They are one of the few dental practices in southwest Missouri to utilize lasers in treating many dental problems. While the use of laser dentistry is relatively new, laser therapy is not. Medical doctors have performed intricate and sensitive laser surgery in the fields of ophthalmology, neuro-surgery, Ear/Nose/Throat (ENT) and dermatology since the 1960’s.

Drs. Davis and Matthews currently use laser technology in many types of dental treatments including decay detection, cavity removal, hardening and bonding of filling materials, tooth desensitizing, tooth whitening, periodontal (gum) therapies, root canal decontamination and many surgical procedures.

What is a Laser?

A laser produces a focused beam of light in varying wavelengths. There are many types of dental lasers and each laser is capable of producing different wavelengths of light with different power levels. The different wavelengths of light affect and treat different types of tissues. For instance, The Er:YAG laser (one of the several dental lasers utilized at Excel Dental), is a “hard tissue” laser that uses a 2.94 micron wavelength beam of light to precisely remove decay and prepare the tooth without unnecessary removal of healthy tooth structure. There are other types of lasers with different wavelengths that are used in soft tissue surgical procedures, bacterial decontamination, gum therapies, decay detection or tooth whitening.

How does the laser work to fix a cavity?

The laser’s light beam reacts with the water at the surface of the tooth, causing the decayed tissue to vaporize. What is so unique is that this wavelength of light will only affect the decayed areas. Therefore, the healthy tooth structure is left untouched and only the decay is removed. This is the most conservative method of decay removal.

Are lasers new to dentistry?

The wide use of lasers in general dental offices is relatively new although the use of lasers is not. Dental lasers have been used worldwide for over 25 years. With recent advancements in laser technology, the laser units have become smaller and much more portable which make their use more practical in an office setting by a general dentist. Drs. Davis and Matthews are proud to be one of the few offices trained and certified to deliver all types of dental laser therapies in their office.

Are lasers safe?

In the hands of a trained dentist, lasers are very safe. As with any device, the dentist must undertake the appropriate training, courses and continued education. Drs. Davis and Matthews are all certified laser dentists and are graduates of the Hoya Conbio College of Clinical Laser Dentists. Their hygienists are also trained and certified by this university to use the periodontal (gum) laser in conjunction with their gum therapies.

The FDA has approved several different hard and soft laser dentistry applications, including their use on adults and children.

Dental lasers actually minimize the risk of damage to surrounding, healthy tissue because they give dentists specific control over power output, time and spot size. This concise control actually makes the laser a safer tool in many cases.

Even though lasers are somewhat new to the general dental practice, doctors began using medical lasers in the 1960s. Years of qualified research and many published reference papers substantiate the safety of lasers.

What are the advantages of the laser?

There are several advantages of laser dentistry. In most cases, the patient won’t feel any pain so there is no need for anesthetic. Secondly, because the laser is so accurate, it pinpoints the decayed area and virtually leaves the healthy tissue alone when compared to the conventional drill, which is much harder to control. Thirdly, you don’t hear the loud whine that the drill makes. The laser is quiet with only a soft, popping sound.

Am I a candidate for laser dentistry?

After a complete examination including digital (computerized) x-rays, our highly trained dentists can determine if the laser can be used safely and comfortably on you. While 80+% of the laser procedures can be performed without needles, some teeth may be sensitive to water which may cause some slight discomfort. In this instance, some anesthetic may be necessary to ensure total patient comfort.

How long do the procedures take?

Often times, patients are in the dental chair for shorter periods of time since there is usually no need to wait for the onset of the numbing following the injection Then, after the dental appointment, patients do not have to wait for the numbness to go away and can return to work without the lingering numbness.

Will there be pain experienced in laser dentistry?

In most cases, the lasers’ selective, precise control either eliminates or significantly reduces pain. When performing many dental and surgical procedures, the laser kills bacteria in the treatment site, eliminates bleeding through coagulation and reduces pain to the degree that no anesthetic is required. Lasers also promote faster healing, which minimizes the discomfort associated with the healing process.

Can my hygienist use the laser?

Our hygienists have been trained to use the laser for decontaminating the bacteria that causes gum infection under the gum line. They work in close conjunction with Drs. Davis and Matthews and will determine if laser decontamination would work for you.

How does the patient benefit from laser dentistry?

Patient comfort is a leading advantage over conventional dental treatments. Lasers can reduce the need for anesthetic, minimize post-operative swelling and discomfort, and enhance patient recovery.

Benefits for the patient:

No needles, no drill, no pain!
Minimal or no bleeding due to laser’s ability to coagulate blood vessels
Faster healing
Reduced post-operative infection due to the bacterial decontamination effect of the laser
Minimal or no anesthesia
Minimal pain and less discomfort
Less inconvenience of numb lips, tongue and face, discomfort following procedures
Less time in chair
Precise wavelength minimizes probability of thermal damage to surrounding healthy tissue
No drill sound
Less patient fear, anxiety and stress
Conservation of healthy tooth structure