Although early lasers were too crude to be useful in dentistry, that did not stop dentists of the 1960s from speculating about their future implications. Over the next decades, researchers have continued to hone and refine laser technology, and today’s lasers can safely and painlessly remove cavities and perform some types of oral surgery with little to no bleeding. Now, research shows that dental lasers may be able to stop cavities before they start. With more than 91 percent of adults ages 21 to 64 sporting at least one cavity, this is truly revolutionary.

Close up photograph of a hand holding a dental tool.

Strengthening Teeth

Specially designed short-pulse carbon dioxide lasers can actually alter the chemical composition of tooth enamel to improve its strength. The laser’s heat changes the top layer of enamel from carbonated hydroxyapatite to hydroxyapatite, which is far more resistant to bacteria-caused acids. Cavities begin when acid erodes tooth enamel, so it is easy to see the importance of these lasers.

Research shows that when combined with a fluoride varnish, these dental lasers can even remineralize teeth, reversing damage that has already occurred. Prescription fluoride alone can provide some remineralization benefits over time, but lasers condense this into a single treatment. The ability to reverse damage rather than putting in a filling allows dentists to protect the full integrity of the tooth.

The Future Is Now

Currently, less than 10 percent of dentists use laser. Those who do mostly use them for soft tissue surgery. Part of the problem has been a lack of accessibility of user-friendly, high-quality lasers, though the market is slowly changing. More and more companies are starting to manufacture dental lasers, making them easier and less expensive to obtain.

Another stumbling block is that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not yet approved short-pulse carbon dioxide lasers for cavity prevention. Dental lasers are already approved for cutting soft tissue and teeth, though, so researchers are optimistic that approval should not take an excessively long time.

It may take some time for laser cavity prevention to become a common treatment. When it happens, though, it will truly revolutionize both preventive dentistry and restorative dentistry. At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are staying on top of the latest research and will continue to debut new treatments as they become approved and available.

 

At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are committed to providing quality dental care to our patients and their families. We are proud to have been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to call 425-643-5778 today to make an appointment for your initial consultation.

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