Lasers have intricately wound their way into our daily lives, from the grocery store checkout scanner to the golf course rangefinder. It’s no different at Dr. Gonzalez’s practice where he puts his diode laser to work for a variety of dental treatments and procedures.
What is laser dentistry?
The word “laser” is actually an acronym standing for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” They were originally introduced to dentistry in 1994, but the technology has continued to improve. When the time was right, Dr. Gonzalez added this technology to his practice.
Dr. Gonzalez uses lasers for both soft and hard tissue procedures, everything from removing decay to recontouring a gummy smile. Diode lasers have a wavelength that is ideally suited for soft tissue procedures because it is absorbable by water and hemoglobin (the oxygenating protein in the blood). This gives the diode laser the ability to precisely cut, coagulate, ablate, or vaporize targeted soft tissue. Hard tissue lasers are rapidly changing decay removal, caries detection, and other hard-tissue procedures, as well.
Dr. Gonzalez employs lasers with these procedures:
- Cavity detection
- Tartar removal
- Dental fillings
- Gum surgery
- Dental implants
- Teeth whitening
- Removal of benign tumors
What are some laser dentistry benefits?
At our Santa Rosa practice, Dr. Gonzalez believes in technology and how it improves our care for our patients. Here are some of the numerous benefits laser dentistry provides for our patients:
- Decay can be removed and teeth prepared for fillings without drilling or injections.
- Gum disease pockets can be cleared and sterilized without scalpels or sutures.
- Gums can be contoured without scalpels or sutures.
- Laser energy instantly sterilizes the treatment areas.
- Incisions heal faster and with little pain.
- Tissue regenerates more efficiently.
- Many laser dentistry procedures can be done without anesthesia.
- Patients unnerved by the sound of a dental drill can relax.
- Damage to surrounding tissue is minimized.
- Procedures can be done more quickly.
- Multiple areas of the mouth can be worked on in a single visit.
What are the main laser dentistry procedures?
These are areas where Dr. Gonzalez currently uses lasers:
- Periodontal disease — Lasers are incredibly effective when working with the gums. When cleaning periodontal pockets, the laser vaporizes infected tissue, disinfecting the area and triggering tissue re-growth at the same time. As the laser energy penetrates the gum tissue, it instantly seals blood vessels and nerve endings. This dramatically reduces bleeding and post-procedure pain, and it encourages faster healing. Here’s where we use the laser for periodontal disease:
- Root planing and scaling
- Removal of bacteria and infected tissue from periodontal pockets
- Surgical reshaping of the gums to reduce periodontal pockets
- To enhance the reattachment of the gums back to the tooth root
- Gum contouring — Gum contouring with a scalpel formerly involved a fairly difficult recovery. Not so when we use a diode laser. Lasers are excellent for addressing gummy smiles, creating a more symmetrical gum line, and for preparing the gumline when readying a tooth for a crown.
- Other soft-tissue uses — From exposing unerupted permanent teeth in children to freeing the tongue in a frenectomy, from removing tissue from partially exposed wisdom teeth to treating canker sores and other lesions, we keep expanding our soft-tissue laser uses.
- Hard tissue uses — Some people are terrified by the sound of a dental drill. Now we can use our lasers to remove tooth decay without needing to drill. We also use the laser to prepare the surrounding enamel for the composite resin filling of the cavity. Lasers are very effective for excavating deep pits and fissures in the molars prior to filling them with sealants. Laser energy effectively etches the tooth enamel, making it a better surface when bonding or applying sealants. Dr. Gonzalez can’t always use the laser for these hard-tissue procedures, but its use continues to grow.
Are dental lasers painful?
After watching science fiction movies with lasers blasting right and left, it’s easy for people to be a little intimidated by the power of lasers. They assume laser dentistry must be painful. The opposite is actually true. Because the laser wavelengths are absorbable by water and hemoglobin, the laser energy can instantly vaporize infected gum tissue without the need for a scalpel. And because the energy instantly coagulates the blood vessels and seals nerve endings, there is dramatically less pain and usually, the incisions don’t require sutures.
Are there any risks involved with laser dentistry?
The risks involved with laser dentistry are very low. Risks of infection are actually far lower because laser energy, unlike standard dental tools, cannot spread bacteria. Lasers allow pinpointing accuracy. Wounds heal more quickly and often more cleanly.
Still, there are risks that hard tissue lasers can injure the interior pulp of a tooth. Lasers still cannot be used on teeth that already have certain types of fillings, such as silver amalgam. There are risks of damage to the gums.
These risks are very low.
Are laser dentistry treatments covered by insurance?
There is no difference in coverage based on the tools employed. For Dr. Gonzalez, our diode laser is just another tool. Teeth whitening with lasers are more expensive than tray whitening, but it is not covered by insurance anyway, as whitening is deemed an elective, cosmetic procedure. If you have questions about coverage, it’s a good idea to check with your carrier prior to treatment.
Is there anyone who should not have laser dentistry?
There aren’t any limitations on who can have laser dentistry. Particularly when working on the gums, Dr. Gonzalez finds that lasers dramatically improve the overall process. The only teeth that cannot take laser energy are those that have silver amalgam fillings in them.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
Dr. Darren Gonzalez uses laser dentistry to provide you with faster, more comfortable, and more effective treatments. With laser dentistry, you can achieve excellent results in significantly less time as well as recover from your treatment more quickly. Call us at 707-542-1532 to make an appointment with our caring dentist and learn more about the benefits of laser dentistry in Santa Rosa, California.