Dental anxiety and phobia are extremely common among adults. In fact, it is so prevalent that studies show it should be considered a dental public health issue since around 5-15% of adults globally report high to severe dental anxiety or phobia. One in every ten adults has some form of dental anxiety. Unfortunately, this also leads to the avoidance of important dental procedures and routine check-ups. Luckily technology has found a pain-free alternative to many common dental procedures! Laser dentistry continues to be a beneficial alternative to drilling.
This is especially true for people who have dental phobia. That’s because it is less invasive and typically does not require any needles!
If you want to learn more about this amazing alternative to your dental care, then keep reading for all the must-know information about laser dentistry.
What is Laser Dentistry?
If you’re not familiar with laser dentistry, it’s a great way to correct damage without irritation for patients with dental phobia.
Laser dentistry uses a concentrated beam of light to cut oral tissues as opposed to a dental drill. This alternative to traditional dental drills means less pain and anxiety for a more positive experience.
If you struggle with dental phobia, then you might overcome your anxiety with laser dentistry.
Other than its ability to improve your smile with less pain, laser dentistry is also a cleaner and more precise method of cutting oral tissues. This means there is a lower chance of infection.
Unfortunately, laser dentistry is also more expensive than traditional dental procedures. It is also not usually covered by insurance. There are also other limitations to laser dentistry when it comes to teeth.
How Does Laser Dentistry Work?
Your dentist sets their laser to a specific wavelength. They then direct the narrow beam of light at your infected gum or tooth. The surface absorbs the laser and the energy in the light destroys the tissue.
The laser is precise and your dentist points it at the tissues that they want to remove. Only a dentist who is specially trained should practice laser dentistry. This ensures the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.
However, keep in mind that any dentist is able to offer laser dentistry even without this specific training. So look into the qualifications of your dentist beforehand.
Different lasers are used depending on the type of tissue treated. There are lasers used to treat both hard tissue, such as bone or teeth, and soft tissue which is your gums.
Soft tissue laser dentistry procedures tend to be more common. This is because the laser used to treat soft tissue is less expensive and easier to work with.
Hard Tissue Treatments
Laser dentistry can treat hard tissue procedures such as cavities, osteotomy (removing parts of your jawbone), treatment of dentinal hypersensitivity, and root canal therapy.
Soft Tissue Treatments
Some of the soft tissue conditions that laser dentistry can treat include periodontal disease, gingivectomy, or gum contouring to shape your gums and improve your smile, tumor or lesion removal, and frenectomies.
Other Laser Dentistry Treatments
That’s not all laser dentistry can be used for. There are many more ways that using lasers in dentistry can help pains correct damage without irritation.
Some additional procedures include regenerating nerves and damaged blood vessels, treating your cold sores, whitening procedures, reducing scar tissue, treating TMJ pain through the reduction of inflammation, reshaping sections of the throat to treat sleep apnea, and repairing old fillings.
The list goes on! Laser dentistry can even detect cavities and teeth with thinner enamel. The use of lasers also protects adjacent teeth from problems and trauma that drilling can cause.
The accuracy and efficiency that laser dentistry provides make it a technology that is quickly growing in popularity.
Benefits of Using Laser Dentistry
There are a few valuable reasons to choose laser dentistry over traditional dental procedures.
Many patients who have their dental problems treated with lasers find that there is less bleeding, pain, and damage to surrounding tissues. There is also less often a need for local anesthetics.
There also tends to be faster healing and less chance of infection. Laser dentistry could also benefit patients with dental phobia. This is because there is no drilling sound or smell that comes with traditional dental treatments.
This cutting-edge technology also has no vibration, heat, or pressure when being used! Which makes for a much more comfortable and less anxiety-inducing experience.
Most importantly, needles are not typically needed for laser dentistry because patients do not need local anesthetic. This is great for young patients who might also be fearful.
How Safe Is Laser Dentistry?
Laser dentistry is extremely safe, less invasive, and overall more efficient than many traditional dental procedures.
Many dentists consider laser dentistry the safer alternative to using traditional dental drills. This is because it is less likely to cause infection and it offers more precise control.
Since 1997, the FDA approved lasers safe for use in dental surgery. In fact, the device made “local anesthesia unnecessary” for many of the patients who were treated with it.
Although lasers have been used since 1960 for dental procedures, as with any dental procedure, there are still some minor risks involved. These risks vary depending on the type of laser dentistry procedure you are having done.
Damage to gum tissue, the pulp of your tooth, and your eyes if someone were to look directly at the laser beam are possible.
For this reason, proper safety precautions are necessary to avoid these risks. In addition, the laser equipment must be properly maintained and tested regularly.
Protective eyewear is required for everyone who is in the room during a dental treatment using lasers.
What Are the Downsides?
Although there are many benefits to using lasers for dental procedures, there are some instances where laser dentistry cannot be used.
Laser dentistry can’t be used on teeth that have already been filled, for tooth preparation for a crown or bridge, and on the spaces between your teeth.
Unfortunately, these are also very common procedures. So most hard tissue dental procedures cannot use laser dentistry.
The cost is also a major barrier for some patients. It’s difficult to estimate exactly how much the cost is for you. This is because most dentists do not offer laser treatments but also because it can vary depending on the procedure needed.
However, you can expect it to be more than traditional dental procedures, which already tend to be hundreds to even thousands of dollars.
In some cases, dental insurance covers laser dentistry. When it does, it may only cover a part of the total cost. Ask your dentist ahead of time how they bill for laser dentistry procedures. This lets you know what to look for with your insurance company so you can budget ahead of time.
Cosmetic procedures are usually not covered. But if the treatment is not considered cosmetic you may be able to use an HSA or FSA to pay for it.
Find Laser Dentistry Treatment Near You!
Don’t let dental phobia keep you from receiving the treatment you desperately need.
Laser dentistry could be the positive experience with a dental procedure you’ve been hoping for! We offer a wide variety of treatment options to support your health and personal needs.
Learn more about how we can help you overcome your anxiety, contact us today!