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Laser dentistry uses laser technology to treat various dental conditions and diseases.
Over the past three decades, lasers have been developed to remove and reshape tooth and gum tissue. This allows dentists to perform some procedures without using scalpels or other traditional instruments.1
Lasers provide a minimally invasive option for procedures such as:
Laser dentistry has been in practice for over three decades and has continued to advance and grow in popularity during that time.
Dental lasers have many benefits over traditional manual scalpels and dental instruments. These include:
Laser dental procedures also come with some disadvantages:
The most common laser dental treatments are generally considered safe and effective. They’re accepted as conventional treatments, and insurance covers them as it would other treatments.1
Laser dentistry treatments come with risks. These include fire and electrical hazards, which have been responsible for the most serious laser-related accidents.7
Because of these risks, dentists and dental assistants who work with laser technology are trained in proper safety protocols. These safety measures help ensure the protection of both patients and dental professionals.1, 7, 8
Laser dentistry is usually more expensive than traditional methods. This is partly due to the cost of dental lasers themselves. A laser can cost anywhere between $6,000 and $100,000, whereas a dental drill generally costs $1,000 or less.
The use of lasers also requires specific training and safety gear, which not all dentists have. This also contributes to the higher price.
Insurance providers generally look at laser dentistry procedures the same way as conventional treatments. This means insurance may offer at least partial coverage if a procedure is restorative, such as a root canal.
On the other hand, cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening and gummy smile treatment aren’t considered medically necessary. Insurance generally won’t cover them, with or without a laser.
Several types of lasers are used in dentistry that are powered by a gas, liquid, or solid. They can broadly be grouped together as either hard or soft tissue lasers.2
Hard tissue lasers can easily trim and reshape tooth and bone. Soft tissue lasers, on the other hand, allow the gums to be cut or contoured safely. They seal blood vessels as they penetrate the tissue, which cuts down on healing time.1
Both lasers are used in a wide variety of restorative and cosmetic procedures.1-5
Common soft tissue laser procedures include:
During a laser gingivectomy, your dentist uses a high-powered dental laser to remove gum tissue and expose more of your teeth.
Lasers can be used to painlessly sterilize deep periodontal pockets, eliminating the bacteria that cause gum disease. This can help prevent more invasive gum surgery from becoming necessary later on.
Laser frenectomy removes or reduces the frenum or frenulum, a piece of connective tissue between the upper or lower lip and the gums. This can be done to prevent gaps between the teeth (diastema) and gum tissue defects.
Poorly fitted dentures can sometimes cause an overgrowth of gum tissue due to constant irritation. A laser can be used instead of a scalpel to remove this extra tissue.4
Common hard tissue laser procedures include:
Before getting dental restorations, such as a crown, your tooth may require crown lengthening. This procedure reshapes the underlying bone to expose healthy tooth structure.
Some lasers can detect tooth decay (cavities) early. They can also kill decay-causing bacteria and remove cavities without using traditional drilling methods.
Dentin hypersensitivity can occur when your enamel is so worn that the tubules underneath it are exposed. These tubules can be sealed with laser treatment, causing the nerve endings within your teeth to be less affected by heat and cold.
Laser-assisted root canal therapy involves the use of a laser to:
Lasers allow root canal therapy to be more precise and less invasive.
Other laser dentistry treatments include:
Lasers can't be used for certain dental procedures. For example, large cavities or cavities that sit between teeth may not benefit from laser treatment. Removing dental crowns or existing fillings and preparing teeth for a dental bridge can't be done with a laser.
Since the 1990s, laser dentistry has offered less invasive alternatives to many common dental procedures.
Laser dental procedures are generally safe and reduce the pain associated with some procedures. They also allow for faster healing.
Laser treatment is often more expensive than traditional methods, but insurance can help cover the cost if the treatment isn’t elective (cosmetic).
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