Laser dental surgery involves the use of a small instrument that produces a light beam. The light from the laser treats, whitens, or reshapes teeth during minor reconstructive surgery. Some benefits of laser dental surgery include less pain and discomfort, while cost remains one of the drawbacks. Dental surgeons require specialized training and certification before performing the laser-based procedure.
Light works as the main source for treating the teeth and gums. During laser dental surgery, the dentist uses a narrow instrument that produces light energy, which sometimes acts as a “vaporizer” for removing damaged dental tissue. The laser instrument also bonds or hardens tooth fillings, as well as emits the heat and peroxide necessary for use in teeth-whitening procedures. During laser dental surgery, the dentist and patient must wear protective eyeglasses to protect their vision from long-term light exposure.
In addition to removing tooth decay, bonding fillings, and whitening teeth, laser dental surgeons perform the procedure for several other minor procedures that don’t require drilling. Common reasons for laser dental surgery include removing bacteria caused by gum disease, reshaping the gums following a root canal, and performing a biopsy of the gums and mouth to test for cancer. The laser surgeon also performs the procedure to relieve canker sore pain and extract wisdom teeth that have partially erupted, or partially entered, through the gums.
Some patients benefit from laser dental surgery because it has multiple advantages compared to traditional oral surgery. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, dental surgery involving the laser technique usually causes less pain, requiring little to no anesthesia. In addition, the surgery effectively removes cavities without harming the surrounding healthy teeth. Recovery time from laser oral surgery also tends to be faster than traditional drill surgery.
This particular type of dental surgery also has some drawbacks. Laser dental surgery can cost thousands of dollars, compared to the hundreds of dollars spent on regular dental surgery. Procedures such as bridges, crowns, and fillings must still be done by using traditional methods.
To ensure safety, patients must seek dental surgeons who are properly certified. Resources such as the Academy of Laser Dentistry offer continuing education and training on the fundamentals of laser dental surgery. Courses offerings may be available online or on-site at various training workshops. Dentists or hygienists who are interested may take introductory courses in lasers, as well as standard and advanced proficiency training, which involve oral, written, and practical exams.