Technological advancements have helped us make incredible strides in communication, quality of life and even dental treatment. In a world where about 15% of adults have dental related anxiety1, laser dentistry offers a gentler alternative to drilling methods.2 The dental laser market is growing fast and is expected to hit $180 million by 2025.3
What is laser dentistry?
A laser is a device that generates an intense, narrow beam of light energy.4 Laser dentistry uses lasers to perform various dental and periodontal procedures. Trained dentists can use this laser light to safely and effectively remove or shape tissue in the teeth or gums.
Laser dentistry can be used in a variety of common dental procedures. These include:5
- Laser cavity fillings
- Laser tooth extraction
- Laser dental cleanings
- Teeth whitening
- Gum disease treatment
Laser dentistry procedures
Laser dentistry procedures are typically split into two categories: hard tissue and soft tissue procedures.6 Hard tissue typically refers to the teeth, while soft tissue refers to the gums. The type of laser your dentist uses will depend on the procedure.
Hard tissue procedures include:7
- Removing tooth decay
- Detecting cavities
- Treating hypersensitivity
- Teeth whitening
Soft tissue procedures include:
- Treating periodontal (gum) disease
- Cosmetic dentistry procedures such as gummy smile correction
Laser dentistry pros & cons
The American Academy of Periodontology says there is insufficient evidence to suggest that laser treatment is superior to traditional treatments for gum disease.8 The American Dental Association has yet to approve or endorse any dental laser system, demurring that “research on the effectiveness of lasers in dental procedures is ongoing”.9
However, outside research has found that laser dentistry is effective in accelerating orthodontic tooth movement and reducing pain levels.10 While it’s best to discuss possible treatment options with your dentist, here are some general pros and cons of laser dentistry.
Laser dentistry pros
- Laser dentistry can be faster
- Laser dental treatments can cause less pain than traditional methods11
- Dental lasers can be less intimidating than drills and needles, which may alleviate dental anxiety
- Many dental lasers have been approved by the FDA
- Laser dentistry may make the healing process quicker12
Laser dentistry cons
- Lasers can’t be used on teeth that have already been filled
- Laser dentistry can’t perform all procedures, or may still require drills to complete them
- Lasers can cause damage to the teeth or gums if a laser with an inappropriate power level and/or wavelength is used13
- Laser dentistry is not practiced by all dentists
- Less research has been done about laser dentistry
- Laser dentistry can be more expensive
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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. It is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.