Dentistry Makes Use of Lasers

Ah, I love technology. Especially when it can make my trips to the dentist even less painful. The FDA has cleared the use of an Erbium:YAG laser since 1998 which can effectively substitute for a traditional drill. The laser vaporizes decayed tooth tissue, is usually painless, does not vibrate and is more precise than a typical drill. If your dentist doesn’t use one of these lasers yet, it’s because they are still extremely expensive as compared to drills, although the vendors claim that over a few years, dentists will save in anesthesia and other costs.

As if that wasn’t enough, laser technology is also being used by dentists to detect tooth decay in its initial stages before they develop into cavities that require fillings or worse. One product that employs this technique is DIAGNOdent. The DIAGNOdent uses a process called fluorescence, in which light energy is reflected back from a surface. Cavities have a much higher degree of fluorescence than healthy tooth enamel and thus can be easily distinguished.