Pioneering dental hygienist would likely be impressed by the latest advances in dental technology. One of the most exciting developments in recent years has been the use of lasers in dentistry. Lasers are becoming increasingly popular among dental professionals and are expected to continue to grow in popularity in the coming years.
The use of lasers in dentistry offers several benefits, including less pain, reducing the need for local anesthesia, faster healing time and causes less bleeding during dental procedures. Lasers are used for a wide range of treatments, from cosmetic procedures to restorative and periodontal treatments. A Texas A&M study found that “the decrease in several suspected periodontal pathogens for the first 3 and 6 months after [laser] therapy suggests a potential benefit for using laser therapy as adjunct tool for non-surgical treatment of chronic periodontitis.”(1) Another short term study concluded that “laser may be advantageous in sites where mechanical debridement alone cannot access, such as deep pockets…”(2) Both studies state that additional research is warranted.
It is estimated that 35% of dental practitioners in the United States have already incorporated laser technology into their practice. This number is expected to increase by a 5.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next 5 years(3) according to Modor Intelligence, a data analysis firm. The research company cites “ the increasing incidence of periodontal diseases, rising geriatric population, increasing demand for non-invasive procedures, painless dental treatments, and growing technological advancements in dental lasers” as the primary drivers over the forecast period.
Laser technology has also been shown to increase patient satisfaction, with dentists reporting increased patient satisfaction with laser procedures due to their minimally invasive nature and reduced discomfort during and after treatment. A meta-analysis of existing studies(4) showed that use of lasers as an alternative to conventional instrumentation can significantly control postoperative pain more effectively compared to conventional periodontal treatment.
Furthermore, the use of lasers in dentistry may also have a positive impact on the physical well-being of dental hygienists. Laser technology allows for more precise and targeted treatment, reducing the amount of physical effort required by the dental hygienist. Additionally, laser-assisted treatment can significantly reduce aerosol production, which has become an increasing concern in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deciding whether to implement lasers in a dental practice depends on various factors, including the current needs and budget of the practice. It is important to evaluate the benefits and costs of implementing laser technology carefully.
As dental hygienists, we should stay informed about the latest developments in dental technology and be willing to adapt and incorporate new techniques and tools into our practice. The use of lasers in dentistry offers several advantages, including increased patient comfort, reduced healing time, and improved physical well-being for dental hygienists. As the use of lasers in dentistry continues to grow, we should be prepared to embrace this new technology and use it to improve patient outcomes and our own work environment.
For more information check out “Laser Dentistry- Introduction and Implementing In Your Practice.” This on demand webinar is presented by Angie Wallace, RDH, Recipient of the 2023 Academy of Laser Dentistry Educator of the year Award.
Angie is also providing a hands-on LASER CERTIFICATION: Implementing Laser Dentistry into your Dental Practice
(2) The effectiveness of scaling and root planing with combined application of air polishing and Nd:YAG laser in periodontal pockets of stage III grade C periodontitis patients: a single-blinded randomized clinical trial