Modern dentistry offers a wide range of innovative treatments that are making dental work safer, more comfortable, and more effective for patients than ever before. Today, laser dentistry is on the rise for its versatility and ability to treat complex dental issues. Renowned New York City dentist, Marc Lazare, D.D.S, M.A.G.D. performs a variety of treatments with the help of precise dental lasers to help patients achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
What is Laser Dentistry?
The word laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. Laser dentistry uses precise, light-based therapy to improve oral health. The concentrated beams of light are highly customizable through different wavelength outputs and have proven to be both safe and effective for use in dentistry and in medical settings.
During a laser treatment, only a small area of the mouth is targeted, with the remaining tissue left intact. This reduces trauma and allows patients to heal more quickly after their procedure. Laser dentistry can address a wide range of issues and is very safe when performed by an experienced dentist.
What is Laser Dentistry Used For?
Laser Bacterial Reduction
Bacteria associated with periodontal disease that occurs in the gums, ligaments, and bones can be difficult to address using traditional treatments. Dr. Lazare recommends that patients with periodontal disease undergo a preliminary laser bacterial reduction (LBR) treatment before routine cleanings to prevent the spread of bacteria through the bloodstream.
Studies show a correlation between bacterial gum inflammation and different diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, so this pre-treatment can improve patients’ overall health as well as their dental health. LBR can also be an excellent addition to a cleaning appointment when used to treat the teeth following plaque removal.
Laser Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity
Around the globe, nearly half of all adults experience discomfort due to tooth sensitivity. While special toothpaste and rinses can provide temporary relief, symptoms will return if the products are discontinued.
Fortunately, laser therapy is an effective long-term treatment option for tooth sensitivity. For over 30 years, dentin hypersensitivity has been treated with dental lasers. While the exact cause of patients’ relief is not yet fully understood, many have reported reduced sensitivity after the procedure. No evidence shows this procedure is harmful to dental health when performed by a trained professional.
While lasers can be used to perform non-surgical treatments, there are cases in dentistry that require advanced replacements for more routine surgical techniques. There are two frenulum locations in the mouth, one found between a patient’s gums and lips, and another that attaches the base of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
Improper attachments can cause functional and speech issues, leading people to be “tongue-tied”. During a minor in-office laser procedure, the tissue is cut to improve the functionality of the lips or tongue. The benefit of undergoing a frenectomy with a laser is improved accuracy, less tissue damage and discomfort, and faster healing times.
Laser Gum Reshaping
Gum contouring is typically performed for two main reasons: to improve aesthetics or address periodontal disease.
During cosmetic laser gum surgery, the dentist can adjust the amount of gum tissue covering the teeth. This can help patients with a “gummy” smile, who display more gums than teeth and feel self-conscious when they smile or speak. In other cosmetic cases, the procedure can create a different tooth shape by contouring the tissue around the teeth or creating symmetry in uneven gums.
In periodontal cases, laser gum reshaping can restore a receding gum line and address bacteria that are causing oral health issues. Periodontal disease can cause tissue recession and may influence tooth sensitivity. In addition to improving the health of the gums, teeth that appear elongated due to receding tissue will look shorter and smaller following the treatment.
Laser Cosmetic Dental Procedures
Dr. Lazare specializes in cosmetic dentistry at his Manhattan office and can perform procedures at a patient’s request to improve the appearance of their smile. Cosmetic laser dental procedures are increasing in popularity because they are convenient, less invasive than many conventional treatment methods, and can improve various aesthetic concerns. Corrections include tooth whitening, gum contouring, crown lengthening, treating cold sores, and more.
Common Types of Lasers Used in Laser Dentistry
In a dental practice, the types of lasers that are most frequently used are the CO2, diode, Erbium, and Nd:YAG lasers. Dr. Lazare will explain the technology available in his office, and discuss which laser might be best for each patient’s care. Some lasers multitask in their functions while others may have a single application in dentistry.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers have been utilized by dentists for almost 50 years. The beams from a CO2 laser are readily absorbed by water, and are generally ablative, or cutting lasers. A CO2 laser can remove tissue from areas around and inside the mouth for a biopsy.
Diode lasers have different uses in dentistry, and like others, perform both dental and cosmetic functions. The dentist can focus the intense beam at the gums to perform a gingivectomy, a necessary or elective gum reshaping surgery, a frenectomy, or the light can be used to help whiten the teeth. Additionally, diode lasers can be used during periodontal procedures to help control bacteria and potential infection.
Erbium lasers absorb a great deal of water and can penetrate deep into the tooth structure. This type of equipment contains disinfecting properties that can eliminate bacteria from the enamel, or outer tooth covering, or the next layer, the dentin. Erbium lasers are used in dentistry to perform gum contouring, frenectomy, and root scaling to eliminate tartar and bacteria. This is often performed to prepare the tooth for additions like a crown.
Through deep laser light penetration, Nd:YAG lasers are typically used to perform periodontal treatments. When the gums, ligaments, and bone are affected by gum disease, this type of laser can be used to treat the infection. The heat energy can also reduce the pockets that form around the teeth by stimulating the formation of fibrin, helping the gums reattach to the teeth.
In addition to periodontal treatments, Nd: YAG lasers can also be used to perform surgery on the gums, frenulum, and remove tissue for a biopsy.
The Benefits of Laser Dentistry
Patients may choose to undergo dental procedures performed with a laser for several reasons, including:
Laser procedures are performed with greater accuracy than standard techniques that may require the use of a scalpel. Through the use of a computer system, the laser can be programmed to deliver intense energy at a specific location and can accomplish this with great precision. Lasers are used to remove only the damaged tissue, leaving the rest of the area unaffected and avoiding unnecessary trauma.
From cutting through bone, teeth, and ligaments, to excising skin from the mucous membrane of the mouth, lasers perform a diverse array of tasks. Lasers are also efficient, and if a patient requires multiple dental procedures that may otherwise require repeated visits, treatment time can be reduced. Because Dr. Lazare also specializes in periodontal and cosmetic procedures, patients do not usually have to visit other specialists for their treatment plan.
Faster Healing Times
When a laser is used, exact locations in the mouth can be targeted, which creates a smaller treatment site. In addition to causing less damage to the mouth, the laser’s heat works to cauterize blood vessels and seal nerve endings, minimizing bleeding and treatment discomfort. With less downtime, patients can return to their normal schedules faster.
Reduced Dental Anxiety
Many patients avoid dental visits due to dental anxiety, or the fear of undergoing dental procedures. In some cases, laser technology can eliminate the need for noisy drilling, the use of needles for anesthetic, faster appointment times, and a more pleasant dental experience. Anxious patients who may have required sedation in the past can often overcome their fear of dental visits through a laser dental treatment plan.
Laser Dentistry FAQs
Dr. Lazare may recommend dental laser treatments to patients who require or request a treatment that can be performed using this advanced technology to improve their outcome and overall treatment experience. At Dr. Lazare’s Manhattan practice, laser procedures typically require less anesthesia than traditional treatments. Patients generally have reduced recovery times due to less bleeding and a lower risk of infection.
Patients at increased risk of bleeding or those who have experienced allergic reactions or serious side effects to anesthesia may be good candidates. The heat from the laser can cauterize blood vessels and because there is little or no damage to surrounding areas, traditional anesthesia is not required. Additionally, patients who are immunocompromised but seek dental work may also undergo a safer, more effective treatment with a dental laser.
Teeth are partially composed of water. When the laser beam is focused on an area of decay, the water in the area is heated, bringing it to a boil and vaporizing the cavity.
This method is effective because areas of decay contain more water than the healthy part of the tooth, so a cavity can be addressed without impacting the rest of the structure. If a patient develops a cavity in a tooth that already has a filling, however, laser cavity treatment may not be the best option.
Laser-assisted teeth whitening is used to activate the chemical mixture that is applied to the teeth during a bleaching appointment at our Manhattan office. Through this dual-method procedure, the teeth can be safely lightened several shades.
It should be noted that dental implants, teeth that have been crowned or treated with veneers, or those that have undergone root canals cannot be lightened using this method. Only natural tooth material can be lightened due to how it absorbs the chemicals and laser light.
After undergoing decades of safe use and testing, lasers have been deemed safe for dental patients as an alternative treatment. There are precautions the dentist will take to ensure safety, including staff training and protective eyewear.
When the appropriate laser and wavelength are utilized, lasers will not cause harm. With that in mind, it is important to choose a dentist with extensive experience in laser dentistry, like Dr. Lazare.
What are Dental Lasers?
A dental laser is a unique device that uses light energy to carry out various procedures that target the area to be treated, and leave the surrounding tissues unaffected. This allows us to perform very precise procedures, while sealing off blood vessels and nerve endings so that our patients experience less bleeding, swelling and postoperative discomfort. Often times this can be done with little or no anesthetic.
What are the limitations of lasers in dentistry?
Lasers are not an ideal treatment solution for the following oral health issues:
- Teeth with existing fillings
- Teeth with large cavities
- Removal of crowns
- Treatment needed between the teeth
Are laser treatments more expensive than those performed with customary equipment in dentistry?
While laser technology is much costlier to purchase than dental drills or other types of gear and appliances, the pricing of various treatment plants can vary and will be determined following an in-office consultation at Dr. Lazare’s New York City office. Patients can schedule an appointment and receive a proper diagnosis as well as a plan for their care.
A pretreatment estimate will be forwarded to each patient’s dental insurance company to determine the type of coverage that will be offered. In a short period, patients will be informed of the total cost that they will be responsible for. There may be credit and financing options available to those who qualify.
What age should patients be to undergo laser dental procedures?
In many cases, laser treatments are appropriate for patients of all ages. The best way for Dr. Lazare to determine the safety and efficacy of procedures in a given situation is to learn about each patient’s full medical and dental history. Certain conditions may make some patients ineligible for laser dentistry.
What is laser pocket disinfection?
Patients with periodontal disease can develop infections around the teeth that separate them from the gums, creating pockets. Through laser light disinfection, heat energy destroys the bacteria that create infection and inflammation. This helps to control periodontal disease. Patients must maintain good at-home hygiene to help aid in the treatment of their periodontitis, and additional laser sessions may be necessary.
About Dr. Lazare
Marc Lazare, D.D.S., M.A.G.D., is a Manhattan-based dentist who provides his patients with a variety of advanced treatments according to their needs. Dr. Lazare practices biomimetic dentistry, which is an innovative and conservative method of dentistry that preserves as much natural tooth structure as possible.
Through laser technology, Dr. Lazare helps his patients achieve beautiful smiles using fewer synthetic materials. Dr. Lazare has studied dentistry extensively, mastering techniques in endodontics, periodontics, and cosmetic dentistry.
Contact the Upper East Side New York, NY office of Dr. Lazare at 212-861-2599.