Could You Be Getting More Out of Your Dental Laser?

It could be something out of Star Wars – researchers are investigating the precise method by which a dental laser can be used to disrupt biofilms in the gingival pockets, with the intention of using this data to craft even more effective laser adjuncts to standard periodontal treatment. Gingivitis, periodontitis, and gum recession is a frequent complaint among patients, with over 70 percent of patients 65 and older experiencing periodontitis.

Numerous existing methods can treat periodontitis, including improved hygiene, antibacterial rinses, scaling and root planing, but some areas can be stubborn and continue to experience inflammation and recession. In these cases, a rubber tip stimulator may be prescribed, but patient compliance is often spotty at best, and efficacy varies.

Enter the laser. While already used for numerous procedures by some clinicians, more research is still being done on how to use lasers for periodontal therapy, and how to maximize the benefits. Dr. Lou Reinish, an expert in laser surgery and optics, investigated how the wavelengths of the three most common dental lasers affect biofilms below the gingival surface. According to Dr. Reinish, the main question to answer is, "How deep [in the gingival pockets] could the bacteria be and still be killed by the laser light?"

Working with researchers at the New York Institute of Technology, he developed mathematical models to determine the most effective wavelength and technique for laser biofilm disruption. According to the models, dental lasers with 810nm diodes set to short pulses at moderate energy levels are effective in killing bacteria up to 3mm below the gum surface. The 1064nm Nd:YAG laser is also effective to a similar penetration depth. Both lasers preserve healthy tissue, and the pulsed delivery ensures that thermal damage will be minimal, speeding up recovery. From this data, the researchers will develop video simulations and protocols to guide clinicians in administering effective treatment.

Dr. Reinish's study shows that new uses are continuously being developed for dental lasers, making them a versatile addition to a dentist's armamentarium. As dental technology trends towards more minimally-invasive techniques, laser dentistry is an important tool to improve outcomes with shorter recovery time, and can distinguish dentists as leaders in competitive areas.

Source:
New York Institute of Technology. (2016, October 20). Benefits of laser treatments for dental problems: Computer simulations show lasers effective in killing pathogens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 7, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161020143529.htm

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