For years, lasers have revolutionized the medical industry and now they are beginning to do the same within the field of dentistry. However, anytime new technologies are introduced, people naturally will have questions. Here is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
What is a laser?
Lasers are beams of light that are a single wavelength and color. Laser is an acronym derived from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”
How are they different from regular sunlight?
White light is made up of light with many wavelengths corresponding to the visible spectrum comprising the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). Laser light consists of beams of a single color and hence a single wavelength of light, concentrated to a high energy level, which can penetrate living tissue.
How are they used in dentistry?
Dental laser usage typically falls into three categories: disease diagnosis; soft tissue procedures of the gums, lips and tongue; and hard tissue procedures of the bone or tooth enamel and dentin. Examples of the most common hard tissue treatments include the diagnosis and removal of tooth decay, while the most common soft tissue treatments include the removal of gum tissue as it relates to cosmetic dentistry and the treatment of gum disease.
Are they safe?
Absolutely! Before blazing a trail in the field of dentistry, lasers have been used for years in the medical field with research evidence and the FDA approving both their safety and efficacy. In fact, they are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding and less discomfort for patients after surgery. And what could be better than that?
Want to learn more?
We pride ourselves on using the latest, scientifically proven technologies so that we can obtain and maintain optimal oral health for our patients. The word “laser” is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and, within the world of dentistry, lasers are used for a variety of procedures and therapies. Simply put, this means that light from a particular crystalline source is stimulated electronically and by the use of mirrors to high energy levels, which can penetrate living tissue. Specific lasers with different light emitting capabilities can be used in dentistry — some on hard tissues and others for soft tissues like gum and oral mucous (skin) membranes within the mouth. Uses include diagnosing cavities, others for removing diseased gum tissues, for example. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery. For example, using a laser, allows preparation of smaller cavities for fillings by vaporizing away tooth decay often without any anesthesia (numbing of the teeth) or a drill.
Did you know that recent research has shown diabetes is a risk factor for increased severity of periodontal (gum) disease and that periodontitis is a risk factor for worsening blood glucose (sugar) control in people with diabetes? Periodontitis can even increase the risk of diabetic complications for people diagnosed with diabetes. When you combine these facts with the following, you will clearly see how important it is to understand and manage these two diseases.
- Over 23 million people in the United States currently have diabetes and over 170 million worldwide.
- 14+ million Americans have a condition called pre-diabetes.
- Another estimated 6 million people in the US have diabetes but are unaware and thus not diagnosed.
- Periodontal disease is the second most common disease known to man, only surpassed by tooth decay.
- Diabetic individuals with periodontal disease have a greater risk for cardiovascular and kidney complications than those diabetics not having periodontal disease.
What You Can Do
One of the most important steps you can take if you have either of these conditions or suspect that you might have one or both is to make an appointment with your physician or with our office for a thorough examination. You should schedule an appointment with your physician for an exam and blood work so that your general health and well-being are monitored. Be certain to share your medical information and any family history of diabetes with our office, as it tends to occur in families.
Learn the risks and how to take care of types 1 and 2 diabetes, as well as the stages of periodontal disease (with detailed full-color illustrations) when you read the Dear Doctor article, “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions, contact us today.
If you don't like your smile when you look in the mirror, or feel self-conscious because your teeth are discolored, there are a variety of whitening procedures that can help you obtain the smile of your dreams.
Choosing the Right White: With strips, trays and toothpastes all claiming to be the best tooth whitening systems, it can be hard to choose how to whiten your teeth. Our office can help you decide the best approach based on your individual needs, time constraints and budget. Whiteners may not correct all types of discolorations.
Whitening in Our Office: This procedure is called chair-side or professional bleaching and may require more than one office visit. Each visit may take from 30 minutes to one hour. We use an in-office whitening gel that is professionally applied to your teeth and activated by a light source, giving you significantly whiter teeth in less than an hour. Typically, teeth with a yellowish hue respond best to whitening.
Whitening Your Teeth at Home: If you are an adult who practices good oral hygiene and doesn't suffer from periodontal disease, our office can help you decide whether an at-home whitening system, or having your teeth whitened in our office best meets your needs. If you decide to go with an at-home system, you will wear a custom-made whitening tray that looks like a thin, transparent night guard. You fill the tray with a mild whitening gel and need to wear the gel filled tray for a specified period of time each day (per our office's instructions). This procedure must be continued over a period of time that generally extends from 2-4 weeks.
Whitening Products Found in Stores: If you are considering over-the-counter whitening products we can also recommend products that will offer you the best results. Whitening toothpastes that have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance contain special chemical or polishing agents that generally provide some stain removal effect.
If you've ever looked through a magazine and viewed the perfectly aligned white smiles of celebrities and models, you may be already familiar with the look of porcelain veneers. To achieve a picture-perfect smile, many Hollywood stars choose porcelain veneers (thin-layers of porcelain) that are bonded to the front of teeth allowing for the alteration of tooth position, shape, size and color. By fixing imperfections, as well as whitening them, veneers offer celebrities a perfect smile that, when maintained properly, can last for several decades.
Evaluation: If porcelain veneers sound appealing, our office can help you decide if you're a good candidate for them. We will ensure you have sufficient tooth structure, that your teeth are in more or less a normal position, and that symmetrical gum contours are present, allowing for proper “framing” of the teeth, necessary for a beautiful smile.
The Process: Once it's been determined that you're a good candidate for veneers, our office will begin a smile analysis using computer imaging to digitally replicate your smile and then fabricate a mock-up smile made of tooth-colored wax. We will work with you to determine the right color and shade for your veneers. You can choose the brightest, whitest “Hollywood smile” or opt for a more natural color and enhanced look.
Next Steps: After your initial appointment, it typically takes the laboratory one week to fabricate your porcelain veneers. The insertion of your veneers can be done with or without a local anesthetic. We will place the veneers on your teeth with a light-sensitive resin, which sets with the use of a white light, effectively bonding them to your teeth. While you may initially experience some tooth sensitivity to hot or cold, this will disappear after a few days. Maintaining your perfect smile requires simple brushing and flossing techniques and routine check ups.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding porcelain veneers. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design, Enhanced by Porcelain Veneers.”
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