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Advantages of lasers in periodontal care

Lasers are rising in popularity for periodontal care.

In this post, we look at the reasons lasers are well suited for periodontal debridement and the common types of lasers available.

The purpose of periodontal debridement

Hyperactive inflammation at the root and gums can destroy connective tissue and eventually lead to tooth loss. Prevention begins with the removal of the irritants that initiate the inflammation via scaling and root planing. Lasers can carry out this non-surgical procedure.

Bacteria removal

The thermal conduction produced by certain types of lasers is particularly effective against gram-negative anaerobes. Setting the laser to certain wavelengths also allows for more accurate targeting of specific bacteria. Dye is placed in the sulcus to color certain organisms so that they can be “marked” for removal.

Current and proposed studies are analyzing the potential for lasers to eliminate bacteria with the use of photo-acoustic shock waves. Such technology would further the efficacy of dental lasers for periodontal care.

Gain access to the root

Engaging a laser to displace the pocket wall or remove the sulcular epithelium provides an enhanced view of the root surface and easier access for power-driven ultrasonic devices.

Laser options

Laser wavelengths can mostly be narrowed down to four choices.

For hard and soft oral tissue treatment:

  • CO2
  • Nd:YAG
  • Er:YAG

Soft tissue treatment only:

  • Diode

Along with selecting a laser best suited for the targeted tissue, you should consider cost, ease of use, size and which procedures you most commonly perform in your office.

For a multi-purpose laser, CO2, Nd:YAG and Er:YAG provide greater flexibility at a higher cost. When the laser is to be purchased specifically for periodontal care, a diode laser can be a more cost-effective choice.

Diode lasers should typically have the following features to be effective:

  • A thin tip to negotiate the sulcus, generally 0.4 millimeters
  • A user-friendly graphical interface to operate
  • Continuous and pulse settings
  • 7-10 watts of power
  • Battery powered
  • Operated by a cordless foot switch

A model that is physically lighter and therefore easier to hold is preferable.