Dentistry
Cosmetic
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Updated on December 29, 2022
5 min read

Laser Dentistry

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What is Laser Dentistry?

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:

  • Scaling and root planing
  • Root canals and tooth fillings
  • Cosmetic treatments such as gum reshaping and teeth whitening

Types of Laser Dental Procedures

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

image 26

Soft Tissue Procedures

Common soft tissue laser procedures include:

Gingivectomy

Gingivectomy, also known as gum contouring or gum reshaping, is a cosmetic dental procedure that reshapes the gum line by removing gum tissue. It’s commonly used to reduce a gummy smile.

During a laser gingivectomy, your dentist uses a high-powered dental laser to remove gum tissue and expose more of your teeth.

Gum Disease Treatment

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.

Frenectomy

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. 

Excess Tissue Removal

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

Hard Tissue Procedures

Common hard tissue laser procedures include:

Dental Crown Lengthening

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.

Tooth Decay Treatment

Some lasers can detect tooth decay (cavities) early. They can also kill decay-causing bacteria and remove cavities without using traditional drilling methods. 

Hypersensitivity Treatment

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.

Root Canal Treatment

Laser-assisted root canal therapy involves the use of a laser to:

  • Access the root canal
  • Remove infected tissue
  • Decontaminate and shape the canal
  • Fill the canal with a sterile material

Lasers allow root canal therapy to be more precise and less invasive.

Other Procedures

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.

image 27

Pros and Cons of Laser Dentistry

Laser dentistry has been in practice for over three decades and has continued to advance and grow in popularity during that time.

Pros

Dental lasers have many benefits over traditional manual scalpels and dental instruments. These include:

  • Minimally invasive and less painful 
  • Less damage to the gums, teeth, and other tissues
  • Stitches (sutures) are usually not necessary 
  • Faster healing time for most patients
  • Less swelling, discomfort, and pain
  • Less blood loss (lasers improve blood clotting)
  • Lower chance of infection (lasers kill bacteria)
  • Higher chance for tissues to regenerate than with traditional methods
  • Local anesthesia is not necessary for some laser dentistry procedures
  • Reduced dental anxiety

Cons

Laser dental procedures also come with some disadvantages:

  • Generally more expensive than traditional dental procedures
  • Not all dental procedures can be completed with lasers
  • Can’t treat teeth with pre-existing dental fillings
  • Drills and manual scalpels may still need to be used in combination with lasers
  • Local anesthesia is still necessary for more invasive procedures
  • There is always a small risk of gum, tooth, and tooth pulp injuries 

Are Dental Lasers Safe?

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 Costs

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.

Does Insurance Cover Laser Dentistry?

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.

Summary

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).

Last updated on December 29, 2022
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 29, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Luke, Alexander Maninagat, et al. “Lasers: A Review With Their Applications in Oral Medicine.” Journal of Lasers in Medical Sciences, 2019.
  2. Maheshwari, Shreya, et al. "Laser and its Implications in Dentistry: A Review Article." Journal of Current Medical Research and Opinion, 2020.
  3. Verma, Sanjeev Kumar, et al. “Laser in Dentistry: An Innovative Tool in Modern Dental Practice.” National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery, 2012.
  4. de Arruda Paes-Junior, Tarcisio José, et al. “CO Laser Surgery and Prosthetic Management for the Treatment of Epulis Fissuratum.” ISRN Dentistry, 2011.
  5. Rajan, Julie Susan, and Umbreen Noor Muhammad. "Evolution and advancement of lasers in dentistry - A literature review." International Journal of Oral Health Sciences, 2021.
  6. Rapp, Ludovic, et al. "Anesthetic-, irrigation- and pain-free dentistry? The case for a femtosecond laser enabled intraoral robotic device." Frontiers in Dental Medicine, 2022.
  7. Singh, Simarpreet, et al. "Safety Concerns Regarding the Use of Dental Lasers." International Journal of Laser Dentistry, 2012.
  8. Kumar, Brij, et al. "The hazardous effects and safety measures of lasers in dentistry: A review." International Journal of Contemporary Dental and Medical Review, 2017.
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