Laser Dentistry vs. Drill Dentistry

Decaying teeth and gum disease are becoming more common nowadays, and treatment is essential not only to oral health, but to overall health as well. In the past, traditional dentistry employed drills, rotary tools, enamel scissors, and cleaning brushes for oral care and repair.

Two of the main dental devices used to remove tooth decay offered today are the dental drill and the dental laser.

Drill dentistry is the most common and well known technology. These utilize hard metal alloy bits (available in a variety of sizes and shapes) which are attached to a drill. Each bit has a different use, and most are made of steel with an outer coating of tungsten carbide.

Early dentist drills used a much slower speed of 3000 rotations per minute (RPM), but modern drills can rotate at a very fast 800,000 RPM. Unfortunately these drills can feel uncomfortable to the patients, making them cringe as the drill touches their teeth. Some of these drills also leave a smudge layer, which is a layer of dead organic residue. However, since it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s also more commonly used, so it’s an essential tool in a dentist’s office.

The most cutting edge technology in dentistry is the laser. A laser emits an amplified light energy, which is capable of cutting a variety of materials. A dental laser can cut tissue and teeth. The light can be transmitted at various wavelengths, each of which can target a different material, from gum tissue and enamel to decayed teeth. It can even be used in whitening treatments.

The NASA research center at Langley has found that there are two main wavelengths that dentists can use which may result in lower costs and less complexity in procedures. The Waterlase dental laser is the first laser with FDA approval for the cutting of hard tissue.

The Food and Drug Association (FDA) has approved laser dental technology, and the American Dentist Association (ADA) has given the technology its seal of acceptance. With these stamps of approval, patients can rest assured that the technology is safe.

Dental lasers cause no vibration and no pain in comparison to the traditional dentist drill. Therefore the laser also won’t require anesthesia. It also does a better job of targeting specific areas of the tooth or gum, without causing harm to surrounding tooth material or tissues. Patients also feel more at ease and comfortable throughout the procedures.

While many dentists only use the lasers for tooth decay, lesion removal, and gum issues, lasers can also be used in the detection of cavities as well. They may also used for the reshaping or re-contouring of gums, and are a very effective and safe tool for both adult and pediatric dentistry.

Not only does the laser dentistry offer many important advances over the old dentist drill, but it also eliminates many of the traditional complaints about dentistry. Nevertheless, as with all technologies, there are limitations. A dentist laser can’t be used on teeth that have had a filling previously, or to fill cavities between teeth. It also can’t do any polishing or shaping of the filling. For any larger cavities which will need preparation for a crown, dentist lasers are not a suitable choice.

Despite these limitations, this advanced technology is far better for a patient’s comfort. If you are interested in learning more about dental lasers, consult the dentists at Smiles on Broadway, who can help you choose the best dental application for your needs.

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